Knicks pull away in fourth to beat Pistons 102-89
NEW YORK (AP) Another strong start for the Knicks, and this time they got the finish they wanted.
Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and New York got a rare win even without the injured Kristaps Porzingis, beating the Detroit Pistons 102-89 on Saturday night.
Robin Lopez added 21 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who ended a three-game losing streak and won for just the fourth time in 20 games. A night after a fourth-quarter collapse in Boston, the Knicks blew open the game with a 21-4 run after the game got close in the fourth.
''Guys responded well, especially after the loss that we had last night, and guys came to play tonight,'' Anthony said.
Arron Afflalo made all seven shots in the first half and finished with 20 points. He and Lopez both shot 9 of 12 and the Knicks finished at 53.2 percent from the field.
Porzingis, the Knicks' second-leading scorer, was ruled out a little less than an hour before the game with a bruised lower left leg. The team said X-rays were negative and interim coach Kurt Rambis said he would be day to day.
But the Knicks were sharp without their rookie star, shooting 60 percent in the first half and pulling away when the Pistons got within four points early in the fourth quarter.
''I think we did a great job as a team of staying consistent with our focus, whereas yesterday, Boston made a couple of runs, especially near the end, and we reacted the wrong way,'' Lopez said. ''Today, whenever Detroit made a run, we usually had a pretty good response.''
Actually, it only happened once, according to Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy.
''We made one run in the entire game. I was not impressed,'' he said.
Andre Drummond had 21 points and 16 rebounds for the Pistons, who dropped their second straight after a four-game winning streak. Tobias Harris had 18 points and eight boards, but point guard Reggie Jackson was 3 for 17 for eight points.
''Our energy wasn't there from the beginning of the game,'' Harris said. ''Our focus level really wasn't there.''
It was tied at 21 after one before the Knicks made 14 of 19 shots (73.7 percent) in the second, closing with a 12-2 burst and outscoring Detroit 35-21 en route to a 57-42 lead.
Detroit battled back to cut it to 81-77 with just under 10 minutes to play, but it was all Knicks from there. Afflalo followed Kyle O'Quinn's basket with five straight points as the Knicks reopened a double-digit lead, and Anthony had three straight baskets at the end of the run to make it 102-81.
Pistons: Though he wasn't activated for the game, guard Jodie Meeks was available to play for the first time since breaking his right foot against Utah on Oct. 28. ... Rookie Stanley Johnson missed his fifth straight game with a sprained right shoulder. ...The Pistons signed forward Justin Harper to a second 10-day contract. He averaged 3.3 points and 0.3 rebounds in his first three games.
Knicks: Rambis said it wasn't decided yet if Cleanthony Early would accompany the Knicks when they leave Sunday for a road trip. Early has been out since getting shot in the right knee during a robbery on Dec. 20. If he stays behind, he would practice with their NBA Development League team. ... The Knicks have won 11 of the last 13 meetings at home.
IN IT TO WIN IT
Though the Knicks have only faint playoff hopes, Rambis said his priority remains winning games, not developing the team's young players.
''Someone asked me a while ago, is there going to be a point in the season where you just go, `OK, we're going to play the young guys?' I'm not there yet,'' Rambis said. ''And if management tells me at some point in time we're there, and they want to make that change, that's something I'll defer to them. But as a coach, I'm not there yet so I'm going to go with the guys I trust and have the experience right now.''
Pistons: Host Portland on Sunday.
Knicks: Visit Denver on Tuesday.