Larry Brown Loses in Return to Detroit
Detroit 106, New York 98
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 2 (Ticker) -- Richard Hamilton spoiled Larry Brown's return to Detroit on Friday.
Facing his former team for the first time since their bitter divorce over the summer, Brown watched his New York Knicks endure a 106-98 loss to the Pistons, who received a season-high 40 points from Hamilton.
"I had two very special years here," Brown said. "When the schedule came out, I dreaded seeing four dates - the two times that I would have to come here and the two times that the Pistons come to New York."
Brown, who was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Long Island, landed on his feet with the team he grew up rooting for. He once described the Knicks as his "dream job."
Back at The Palace of Auburn Hills for the first time since his departure, Brown was greeted by more boos than cheers during pregame introductions despite public address announcer John Mason's request of the crowd to "welcome back" the coach.
"He got mixed reviews, which is what I expected," Hamilton said.
However, the crowd's mood turned positive when each of the five Detroit starters, led by Rasheed Wallace, went over to the Knicks bench to embrace Brown before the tip.
"I just wanted to say hi," Wallace said. "I think it was pretty emotional for him - he's a pretty emotional cat. I was just paying my respects."
"I'm so happy this game is over," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said.
Brown's rebuilding Knicks (5-10) played well for a half before being overwhelmed in the third quarter by the Pistons, who clearly have moved on without their former coach.
Under new coach Flip Saunders, who has installed a more fluid offense without losing the tough defense that made Detroit a champion, the Pistons (12-2) have raced to the NBA's best record.
"I thought, overall, we executed extremely well offensively," Saunders said.
In the third quarter, the Pistons displayed their defensive tenacity as they held the Knicks to just eight points on 3-of-17 shooting in turning a tie game into an 83-67 lead entering the final quarter. Hamilton scored five more points than the Knicks in the quarter.
"The first half was a battle, but we opened it up in the third quarter," Billups said.
Knicks guard Stephon Marbury, who scored just three points after the first quarter, was upset at the officiating.
"I'm not going to comment on the third quarter," Marbury said. "I want to save my money this time."
Brown had to be pleased that his team fought back. The Knicks used a 19-5 run in the fourth quarter, getting as close as 93-88 with 3:28 remaining.
"They just kept on coming and kept on coming," Saunders said. "That's what youth gives you - enthusiasm and energy."
But Hamilton sank a jumper and made two free throws, helping the Pistons rebuild the lead to 100-92 with 1:49 remaining. He made 13-of-25 shots and 13-of-14 free throws in falling two points shy of matching a career high.
"Against coach Brown, I just wanted to be aggressive," Hamilton said. "I could hear his voice all night. I'm just glad he was yelling at them this time and not me."
Jamal Crawford scored 22 points and rookie Channing Frye added 21 for the Knicks, who fell to 2-8 on the road.
"That's one of the best teams in the league, and we stayed with them," Frye said. "We're getting better every day. Sooner or later, we'll get there."