Amare Stoudemire scored 17 points for the Knicks, who are 6-1 since Mike D’Antoni resigned. They lost 96-79 on Friday night in Toronto, but had no trouble with the Pistons for the third time in three meetings this season.
Carmelo Anthony finally got his shot to fall in the third quarter and finished with 15 points, while Jeremy Lin had 13. The bench put it away early in the fourth, allowing some banged-up Knicks to get some extra rest. Lin sat down with a sore left knee but could have returned, while Stoudemire went out with a sore lower back and the Knicks said at the time his return was questionable.
Ben Gordon scored 20 points for Detroit, which lost its fifth straight.
The Knicks came in a half-game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for eighth place in the Eastern Conference heading into a potential pivotal meeting Monday night at Madison Square Garden, exactly one month before the regular season ends. Milwaukee has won the first two matchups and could clinch the season-series tiebreaker.
The Pistons are playing without guards Rodney Stuckey (sore left big toe) and Will Bynum (virus) and lacked energy during a difficult portion of their schedule. They came home from a five-game Western trip to lose to Miami on Friday night, then went right back on the road to open a four-game trip Saturday. They shot 37 percent.
New York beat Detroit by scores of 103-80 and 113-86 earlier this season, and needed less than a half to get a big lead that was never really challenged this time.
The Pistons tied it at 31 on two free throws by Jonas Jerebko with 5:28 left in the second quarter, then managed just six points the rest of the half. The Knicks ran off 13 in a row, with Lin’s 3-pointer making it 44-31 with 2:33 remaining, and it was 49-37 at the break.
The only problem in the first half was the continued struggles of Anthony.
The All-Star forward shot 37 percent in his previous five games and was just 1 of 7 in the first half, appearing frustrated by his struggles. Baron Davis appeared to be giving him some encouragement after one badly missed jumper, and Anthony screamed out loud after missing on a drive to the basket.
He got an easy bucket inside early in the third and that got him going. He made 4-of-5 shots in the period, finishing 5 of 12. Stoudemire hit all three shots for seven points in the quarter as the Knicks blew it open.
JR Smith finished with 14 points for the Knicks.
Notes: The Knicks said reserve forward Jared Jeffries is expected to miss two weeks because of inflammation in his right knee. Woodson said he needed to rest the knee and strengthen it. … Woodson said the Knicks are considering sending seldom-used center Jerome Jordan back to the NBA Development League to get in some games. … The coaches could have been on opposite benches had things played out differently last offseason. Woodson was a candidate in Detroit, where he was an assistant under Larry Brown on the Pistons’ 2004 NBA championship team, and also interviewed for openings in Houston and Minnesota. Had he not ended up back in Detroit, Lawrence Frank likely would have been the top choice to take the role as the Knicks’ top defensive assistant to D’Antoni.