Pistons top Knicks; NY's playoff hopes continue to fade
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Chauncey Billups scored 22 points and dished out six assists to lead the Detroit Pistons over the New York Knicks, 91-83, at Madison Square Garden.
Richard Hamilton added 19 points and seven rebounds for the Pistons, who have won five of six and increased their Eastern Conference lead over Chicago and Cleveland to 4 1/2 games. The Bulls and Cavaliers were both off on Monday.
Tayshaun Prince had 12 points and eight rebounds and Antonio McDyess tallied 11 points with 13 boards for Detroit, which used seven straight points down the stretch to pull away.
Nate Robinson and Eddy Curry each scored 24 points to lead the Knicks, whose playoff life is fading. Channing Frye had 11 points and Mardy Collins 10 for New York, which has lost 11 of 14 and fell four games behind Orlando for the final playoff spot with just five games to play. The Magic won at Milwaukee Monday night.
After Robinson drained a three-pointer to help New York overcome a five-point deficit and tie the game at 75 midway through the fourth quarter, the game remained tight for the next three minutes.
Billups' fadeaway jumper with 2:37 remaining, however, broke a tie at 79 and started a seven-point run that secured the game for the Pistons. Hamilton hit a three-pointer with 2:03 left and Rasheed Wallace's follow-up dunk put Detroit on top 86-79 with 1:26 on the clock.
Detroit hit 3-of-6 free throws down the stretch to ice it.
Wallace ended with just six points and six boards for Detroit, which led 24-23 after the first quarter and 45-38 at halftime.
Down 50-40 after a Billups three-pointer a minute into the third quarter, the Knicks went on an 28-8 run to take a 10-point lead of their own. Robinson and Curry combined to score 24 points during the surge, which Robinson capped with a trey with under a minute to play for a 68-58 cushion.
Billups rallied the Pistons heading into the fourth quarter, hitting a three- pointer and then a long jumper at the buzzer as Detroit went into the final 12 minutes down just 68-63. Detroit then continued to pressure New York in the fourth, going ahead 75-70 after a Prince bucket five minutes into the frame. Prince's basket ended a 12-2 run that dated back to the third quarter.
NY's Steve Francis was ejected for a second time this season. He was tossed after receiving a pair of technical at the 10:50 mark of the fourth quarter for arguing with the officials...The Knicks were already without guard Stephon Marbury for a second straight game with a toe injury...NY forward Renaldo Balkman was also out with a stomach virus...Detroit has won nine of the last 11 meetings.DET NYK