Nothing like a 4-2 January to win over even the most hardcore cynic, as the uncharacteristically giddy Peter Vescey gushes of Isiah Thomas’ charges, “Who says the Knicks are worse aligned than Pat Riley’s replaced hip? Four wins in the last five games, albeit against league dregs, is demonstrative proof they’re at least learning how to dispose of the team they’re supposed to beat.”

Who needs Chris Webber? His presence almost definitely would’ve rob David Lee and Channing Frye of precious experience. Lee has become a unvarying source of profit-earning. Against the Kings his numbers were 15 points and 12 rebounds; nobody in NBA history, it says here, ever passed the ball better and wound up with no assists.

Lately, Lee reminds me of Phil Jackson: Big shoulders, long arms and lefty, only David is anything but “awkwardly effective,” as retired New York beat writer Joe O’Day used to describe Action Jackson.

Any day now I expect Lee to be appointed the designated defender of the in-bounds pass.

Who ever thought Mike Epps would get the heave-ho before Isiah Thomas and/or Stephon Marbury? Only those of us who were courageous enough to tune in every week to Def Comedy Jam!

Against the Kings Marbury dug in at both ends of the equator. One of Kevin Martin’s few misses resulted from the smaller Knick challenging and crowding him into a perimeter force in the final few minutes. Marbury also registered a Knicks-high four steals, the same amount picked off by distinguished defensive demon, Ron Artest.

Without doubt this has to be the first time in Marbury’s 11-year pro career, probably ever, when the subject of stellar defense preceded mention of him leading his victorious team with 25 points, as well as dividing assist honors (eight) with Crawford.

Indeed look now; Stephon the Soloist is playing oh-so pleasantly with the band these days I’m tempted to ignore his game-high five turnovers.

Who needs Webber’s fake smile when we just now got rid of Marbury’s unadulterated scowl?

Ever the brave iconoclast, True Hoop’s Henry Abbott has composed a stirring defense of the T-Shirt Cannon. You won’t be getting a Christmas card from Ned Flanders next year, Henry.

The T-Wolves have a surplus of guards, and C-Webb’s arrival in Motown should render a big man surplus to requirements for the Pistons. Hence, there’s talk of a Marko Jaric-for-Nazr Mohammed swap. Meanwhile,’s Marty Burns takes a particularly dim view of Webber’s prospects in Detroit.

Webber is more like a statue on defense. Ever since undergoing microfracture knee surgery a few years ago, he just has not been able to move laterally. Foes attack Webber with pick-and-rolls, forcing him to come out and move his feet so they can blow past him on the way to the basket.

For the Pistons, a team that prides itself on defense (or at least used to do so), it’s a major problem. Detroit already lost Ben Wallace before the season. Now it is taking another step toward ridding itself of its defensive identity.

One Western Conference scout who sees the Sixers regularly as part of his work duties told me last week he’d be surprised if Webber made any impact. “Have you seen him this season? He’s been awful,” the scout said. “He can’t play anymore.”