Imagine if Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald got his first choice, and Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin were running the Knicks instead of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton.

Certainly they wouldn't be an Eastern Conference-leading 16-5 entering tonight's Garden showdown vs. the 9-13 Lakers. As luck would have it, Nash chose the Lake Show over the Knicks, who then turned to Kidd.

Nash, the Soho resident, has played just one game after breaking his fibula on Oct. 31 and could be two weeks away from returning — much to the chagrin of new Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. Kidd has been sensational in a renaissance season at age 39 — his latest heroics occurring in Tuesday's 100-97 win in Brooklyn with the game-winning 3-pointer — his sixth.

Missing Nash and Pau Gasol, the Lakers are reeling, while the Knicks have won seven of eight games.

"It should be a good game," Tyson Chandler said. "They're having their troubles right now, but we know how explosive they can be. They still have great players on that roster. They can get going at anytime. With Nash out, Gasol out, I don't know how much time D'Antoni has had to put in his stuff. You definitely can't judge them."

Sources say Nash was arranging a trip to New York to sign with the Knicks until a late phone call from Kobe Bryant. Kidd always has been a better defender than Nash and more adaptable in playing off the ball, guarding the "2" position. And Kidd is also unexpectedly lighting up from the 3-point line like never before in his career. He is shooting 52 percent from 3-point land after once being called "Ason Kidd" for not having a "J."