Holding Dwight Howard to a mere one point helped the Nets to a 101-94 win over Orlando last night, but Richard Jefferson’s 17 point, 8 assist performance might be the last Jersey will see of him for some time. The AP reported earlier today the Nets forward (above) will undergo arthoscopic surgery on Monday, with no return date noted.

Earlier this week, the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro — fast becoming the most trenchant agony aunt this side of Dan Savage, answered a reader’s queary about Jefferson’s alleged involvement in a fight at practice.

Mr. D: You didn™t seem to put much into the RJ black eye story, why?
John D.

Mr. D Yerself: If you don™t have a fact or knowledgeable testimony to support a claim, there™s no story, period. Some publications may think otherwise, but that™s confusing news with gossip. I can tell you about the former, but the latter is not my bailiwick — I™m not a gossip œreporter, never had much use for them, and I can™t even look at that Musto guy on Olbermann without leaping for the remote, cringing as I thumb-smash the CH-UP button. But I know that there has to be a line somewhere between legitimate news and manufactured rubbish, and somewhere along the way “ even long before the Australian Taliban took over Fleet Street “ they decided that the line can be moved to suit their purposes. And everybody is guilty of it. Even the Times somersaulted over the line with undoubtedly the dumbest story I™ve ever read “ their laughingly inept look at the Clinton marriage “ and that™s just the way things are now in this age of shrinking readership. Sometimes the Gray Lady even takes her lead from the tabloids “ note her reaction last year to the Page 6 scandal, which was the essence of how the gossip tableau is filled with corrupt, irresponsible morons. They ran it daily, usually above the fold, showing their true colors in black and white. It just reminded me of that line from the great Murray Kempton: œThe Times, he once said, œlikes to portray itself as being above the fray, but it has never stopped the Times “ once the battle has been fought “ from sneaking onto the battlefield and shooting the wounded.

Mike Breem is a master of understatement. With the Heat trailing Dallas, 90-84, and 4 minutes remaining, the moonlighting Knicks microphone fiend watched Antoine Walker hoist an off-target attempt from beyond the arc and muttered, “I don’t know if that’s the Ron Rothstein wants.” Indeed, I’m pretty sure Ron would’ve prefered novocaine, especially after D-Wade hit the rim trying a trey with 4 seconds left that would’ve tied the game at 96. Dallas was victorious this afternoon, 99-93, as Enrico Pallazzo Jr. Jerry Stackhouse busted out with 16 of his 23 points in the 4th quarter.

Along with sowing seeds of a Pau Gasol-to-Da Bulls exchange (quoting DMX in the process, too), the New York Post’s Peter Vescey ignores the Knicks win over Indy last night, prefering to focus on a pair of last second losses to the Wizards and Nets, the latter in particular.

You’d think Isiah Thomas would’ve learned his lesson – always have one time out left in the bag just in case – following the last-second loss to the Wizards; the Knicks were forced to inbound and dry heave from beyond midcourt. A game later the exact same thing happens.

I understand Thomas is trying to teach his team in the huddle how to win, but burning a time out with 20 seconds left in the one-point defeat to the Nets, and the ball in the hot hands of Stephon Marbury, made no sense.

Like the majority of Knicks fans, I, too, second guess Thomas’ wisdom to play Jared Jeffries more minutes (24) than David Lee (21). That’s just plain lame in light of Lee’s consistent near double-double numbers. Imagine how productive he’d be if he actually saw the daylight he’s earned.