NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Knicks did not want to dwell on
their fourth-quarter collapse, preferring instead to point to the
bottom line -- a much-needed victory.
Latrell Sprewell returned to the starting lineup and scored 23
points, helping New York defeat the Detroit Pistons 94-91 Monday
night despite nearly blowing a 32-point lead.
Allan Houston also scored 23 for the Knicks, who won for the
second time this season -- but just barely.
Detroit trailed by 22 when the fourth quarter began but pulled
within one with 9.6 seconds left. Sprewell hit a pair of free
throws with 4.7 seconds to go, and Ben Wallace threw away the
ensuing inbounds pass to deprive Detroit of a chance to tie.
"There's no such thing as a discouraging win,'' Houston said.
"It's a good win for us no matter how it happened. Nobody plays a
The Knicks certainly didn't, shooting just 2-for-18 in the
fourth quarter when they were outscored 31-12. One of New York's
two field goals came when Wallace inadvertently tipped in a missed
Wallace grabbed 19 of his 21 rebounds in the second half,
thriving on the boards as the Knicks suddenly found themselves
unable to make a shot.
"We just had a mental breakdown,'' coach Don Chaney said. "We
were playing not to lose, as opposed to playing to win. When you do
that, you do things differently. You lose your mental poise. We'll
grow out of it.''
Improving to 2-8, the Knicks avoided having the worst record
after 10 games in franchise history.
New York made 14 of its first 18 shots, a spree that ended with
Howard Eisley's 3-pointer for a 34-18 lead. New York shot 76
percent in the quarter despite getting very little from Sprewell --
three points and two assists in 8 minutes.
Chaney said he decided early in the morning to move Sprewell
into the starting lineup in place of Shandon Anderson.
"I just felt we need a win real bad. With him starting, we
should get out to a jump start -- which we need. I'd rather do it
now than later,'' Chaney said.
Billups went down late in the first quarter when he collided
with Eisley. Atkins played the remainder of the game for Detroit,
logging a season-high 41 minutes. Billups sustained a serious ankle
sprain and is not expected to play Wednesday night against Miami,
coach Rick Carlisle said.
The Knicks exploited their matchups with the 5-foot-11 Atkins in
the second quarter, posting him up with taller players to create
easy baskets. Eisley assisted on three straight baskets in a 10-0
run that made it 48-22, and the lead reached 32 on a 3-pointer by
Sprewell with 1:35 left before halftime.
Detroit made its charge in the fourth with a 16-2 run that ended
with Hamilton catching an inbounds pass and going in from the foul
line for an uncontested dunk with 24 seconds left, making it 91-89.
Detroit nearly forced an 8-second violation before Sprewell made
one of two from the line with 12.5 left, and Hamilton again got
free for a dunk off the inbounds pass to make it a one-point game
with 9.6 remaining.
It took the Pistons 5 seconds to foul Sprewell, and he made both
foul shots. Wallace then attempted a baseball pass into traffic,
and the ball was deflected away at midcourt.
"We were trying to get it to Chucky. In 4½ seconds he can scoot
downcourt and either get a shot or get somebody a shot,'' Carlisle
said. "That was my error and certainly not Ben's. He played like a
man all night long.''
Ex-Knick Marcus Camby took a thinly veiled shot at Houston
when asked whether Sprewell had been made a scapegoat for the
team's problems. "He's not the one with the huge, huge contract.
He lays it on the line every night. He's not to blame.'' ... One
more from Camby, on Antonio McDyess' preseason putdown of Camby
before McDyess went down for the season with a knee injury: "He
had some slick comment. Two days later he goes down. It's that
karma stuff.'' ... Knicks G Charlie Ward could return Friday at New
Orleans. He has missed four games with a bruised leg.