Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 10/30

Game 1: Wednesday, October 30th
Game 2: Monday, November 18th
Game 3: Friday, January 17th
Game 4: Friday, March 21st

Pistons 91

(8-3, 3-3 away)

Knicks 94

(2-8, 2-5 home)

    Coverage: MSG

    7:30 PM ET, November 18, 2002

    Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

    1 2 3 4 T
    DET 20 14 26 3191
    NY 38 26 18 1294

    Top Performers

    Detroit: R. Hamilton 31 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    New York: A. Houston 23 Pts, 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

    Knicks hang on after blowing 32-point lead

    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

    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 perfect game.''

    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 shot.

    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.

    Richard Hamilton scored 31, Cliff Robinson 19 and Chucky Atkins 14 for the Pistons, who lost starting point guard Chauncey Billups to an ankle injury.

    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 4 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.''

    Game notes

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 91 94
    FGM-FGA 35-84 (.417) 36-80 (.450)
    3PM-3PA 2-8 (.250) 5-11 (.455)
    FTM-FTA 19-25 (.760) 17-24 (.708)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 16-51 7-31
    Assists 19 20
    Turnovers 14 10
    Steals 8 12
    Blocks 6 0
    Fast Break Points 2 1
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 21 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    New York
    Richard Hamilton Hamilton
    Points: 31
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1
    Allan Houston Houston
    Points: 23
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0