With my New Year’s Vow To Doubly Focus On The Negative in ’06 firmly in mind, I’ll have little to say this morning about the Knicks’ tremendous triple OT win over Phoenix at the Garden last night, except to say that if New York continue to get a full night’s work out of Eddie Curry (above, shown getting the heimlich manuever from David Lee), they’re not gonna be a lottery contender. Next year, anyway.

Instead, we’ll zero in on an AP report that Knicks C Jerome James has been “suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.”

The Knicks said they would not comment further on the suspension, and coach Larry Brown would not address James or his status before the Knicks’ game against the Phoenix Suns.

“I’m not commenting on Jerome,” Brown said. “He’s not on the active list. I’m talking about active players right now.”

The 7-foot-1 James, who spent the past four seasons with Seattle, has been a disappointment after signing a five-year, $30 million contract with New York. He has been limited to just 14 games because of conditioning and injury issues, averaging 3.4 points, 2.5 rebounds and 10.4 minutes.

Writes the New York Post’s Peter Vescey,

We already know Isiah Thomas must not have seen the 7-footer play in Seattle, or talked to anybody mildly associated with the Sonics about his attitude and aptitude for putting on weight.

But evidently Thomas also must not have been paying much attention when his $30 million summer fling (minus a weight clause, mind you) showed up at camp shapeless and indifferent. Larry Brown’s reputation as a gifted Phys Ed. teacher is secure. Barely a third of the way into his first season as Knick coach and I do believe he almost has Stephon Marbury playing the way he did under Lenny Wilkens.

Then again, Doug Flutie Sunday successfully converted the NFL’s first drop kick since 1941. “How come Larry never told me good things can happen when you put the ball on the floor?” Starbury said.

If Brown truly is devoted to the core of New York’s youth corps (minus disgruntled Trevor Ariza, who may never regain his coach’s trust after turning down a start in L.A.), I assume the Knicks have stopped scouting Jalen Rose and Larry can cease pressing Isiah for Theo Ratliff.

Three months later, after catching James trying to Ring Ding in the new year, Thomas at long last is prepared to teach him a lesson he’ll not soon forget: Sources say he’s been suspended with pay but without per diem.

After Larry Brown used his unique skills to communicate with Stephon Marbury through the media last week, Newsday’s Greg Logan catches up with the newest resident of Brown’s doghouse, Trevor Ariza.

Larry Brown’s game of roster roulette claimed another victim yesterday when the Knicks’ coach announced that second-year forward Trevor Ariza not only has lost the starting job to rookie David Lee but also has been beaten out for a spot in the playing rotation by newcomer Qyntel Woods.

The news blindsided Ariza, who was informed by a public relations official.

“It’s the first time hearing this, so it’s a little bit of a shock,” Ariza told reporters before the Knicks’ game against Phoenix last night at the Garden. Ariza said he’s tried to do everything Brown asked and never got the impression he clearly had been “beaten out,” as Brown said.

“That’s his choice of words,” Ariza said. “I’m a little shocked … To hear it from somebody else telling me that somebody has beaten me out without flat-out outplaying me, I’ve never had that happen before.”

Ariza never has considered asking for a trade, but he is mystified by Brown’s methods. “I think everybody is still confused,” Ariza said. “Nobody really knows how to look at things or what he sees, what he wants. Everybody just tries to do his best.”