AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Pistons thought they would end their losing skid when they got Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Gordon back from injury.
Instead, it is other teams that are getting healthy at Detroit’s expense.
Tuesday, with the trio on the floor together for the second straight game, the Pistons were routed 104-87 by the New York Knicks. Detroit (11-20) has lost eight straight and fallen nine games under .500 for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
“Our players have to understand that getting those three guys back doesn’t mean they don’t have to keep playing hard,” Pistons coach John Kuester said after a long post-game meeting with his team. “Rip and Tay were out for six weeks, and they aren’t going to be at 100 percent right away, so we need to play with hunger and intensity. We aren’t doing that right now.”
David Lee was the star for New York, scoring a season-high 30 points and adding 12 rebounds while Wilson Chandler added 23 points and nine rebounds.
“We played pretty good defense tonight, and that’s going to be the one thing we can do consistently,” Lee said. “I’ve been shooting the ball well, and it helps everyone on the floor when I shoot because it opens up the floor for the other guys to operate.”
New York had lost two in a row and entered the game with the same 11-19 record as Detroit, but hit 51 percent of their shots while holding Detroit to 42 percent.
“Like I’ve said before, we just need to make shots,” New York coach Mike D’Antoni said. “David was obviously getting good looks tonight and knocking them down, but we really got the same shots we got against Miami and San Antonio. We didn’t knock those shots down. Tonight, we did.”
Hamilton had 16 points and Rodney Stuckey scored 15 for Detroit despite combining to shoot just 11 of 34.
“We didn’t show up to play in the first half or the second half either,” said Swedish rookie Jonas Jerebko. “We’d play well for three minutes and then play badly for seven. We can’t play like that.”
New York was the better team throughout the first half, outshooting the Pistons 49 percent to 37 percent on its way to a 49-40 lead. Lee had 17 points in the half, while Hamilton was 1 for 10 for Detroit.
The Knicks scored the first six points of the second half to extend the margin to 15 points. The Pistons got within nine with a full-court press, but Chris Duhon answered with a 3-pointer.
New York led 79-66 going into the fourth, and by as many as 19 down the stretch.
“We just played aggressive,” Chandler said. “We didn’t let up and we made everything tough on them. It wasn’t just one guy tonight – it was a team effort, and when we have games like that it is very special.”
NOTES: Charlie Villanueva (flu) was scoreless in 12 minutes, while Will Bynum (both ankles) sat out the game. … The game could have featured Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic, two of the biggest draft busts of the decade. Milicic, though, was inactive for the Knicks against the team that drafted him while Brown was in uniform, but didn’t play. … Danilo Gallinari took nine 3-point shots and just one 2-pointer – his first shot of the game. … Detroit’s only lead was 2-0.