The headaches are gone — at least for Knicks forward Lance Thomas, who is expected to return Sunday against the Spurs at the Garden.
Thomas has missed the last 14 games with a fractured right orbital bone. While working his way back, he experienced headaches that sent him to a specialist.

Now the biggest headache remains the Knicks defense.

“It’s such a relief to not have them anymore, and now it’s time to compete,” Thomas, who last experienced the headaches “about five days ago,” said Saturday.

Now the reserve, who will play with a protective mask, hopes to bring to the Knicks what he does best.

“Intensity, defensive leadership, being very vocal, especially in transition, the half court, pick and roll coverages and just getting into the other team’s best player,” Thomas said. “I think that’s something we haven’t been doing in my absence. I’m very anxious to start bringing that back.”

Thomas was in on the Knicks lengthy film session Saturday.

“We saw a lot on defense where we could have been a lot better,” he said. We addressed it and everybody spoke. We learned from it.”

Though Thomas is expected back, center Joakim Noah will miss his fourth straight game with a sore left hamstring.

“He did not [practice],” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He won’t play tomorrow, although we think Lance will.”

One point that has served to soothe the Knicks all season throughout the misery is that they play in the East. Win two games, improve two places in the standings. But with the season dwindling down, it serves as little relief.

“The only thing that’s keeping us kind of sane is the fact that when you look at the standings,” Carmelo Anthony said Friday.

“You try to use that as motivation — ‘Hey, look we’re right there,’ ” Hornacek said. “At this point, we’ve said it four or five times at different times. We’ve just got to forget about that. We’ve just got to get back to playing the way we can be and the way we want them to play and to play hard.

“Like the Clippers [game]. If you play hard and end up on the short stick, OK. Again games like last night, we scored plenty of points all we had to do was play some defense and we win.”

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