Hamilton, Wallace Lead Pistons Past Knicks
Detroit 105, New York 79
NEW YORK, Jan. 19 (Ticker) -- Things are going so well for the Detroit Pistons that they remind coach Flip Saunders of a team that used to play at Madison Square Garden.
Richard Hamilton scored 26 points and Chauncey Billups collected 13 assists as the Pistons rolled to their sixth straight win, a 105-79 victory over the New York Knicks.
It was the fourth straight game Detroit had at least 30 assists and ninth time overall for a team that has played with the same starting lineup all season.
The effort was so impressive to Saunders - who took over when current Knicks coach Larry Brown left after two years - that he agreed when a reporter asked him if the Pistons reminded him of the 1969-70 Knicks, a team that relied on unselfish play and ball movement to win the NBA championship.
"I was talking with TNT and they said 'Who does your team remind you of?' I'm maybe dating myself but I said it reminds me of the Knicks," Saunders said. "Just how they played and with Walt (Frazier), Willis (Reed), (Dave) Debusschere and (Bill) Bradley and all those guys they were so unselfish. They relied a lot on ball movement and they were team-oriented. They had every guy that had their own specialty.
"They had Bradley shooting the ball. They had Debusschere getting open looks. They had Willis controlling the middle and we're pretty much the same way. All of our guys have their own thing where they have their own thing that they specialize in and have the ability to carry the team at certain points in the game."
Although Detroit's offense has improved under Saunders, Billups was quick to point out that the team's excellent record comes from playing solid defense.
"We know who we are," Billups said. "We know we're a defensive basketball club when it comes down to it. We just had a facelift so to speak with our offense. But we know who we are. When it's time for us to go up-and-down, we know where it's at. It's not getting extra possessions and extra shots, it's taking care of the defensive end."
Playing the second end of a back-to-back on the road following Wednesday's 117-88 rout at Atlanta, the Pistons overwhelmed the Knicks virtually the entire way. They led by double digits most of the night and closed out the first half on a 13-4 run, highlighted by two 3-pointers by Rasheed Wallace and another by Hamilton, who both fed off the effective passing from Billups.
"When we're taking shots from the corners and we did a lot tonight, that shows we are playing a lot of ball movement, a lot of player movement and making the extra pass," Saunders said. "That's pretty much how you'd want to play offensively."
"We had a lot of wide-open looks," said Hamilton, who scored 40 points against the New York on December 2 and finished 11-of-16 from the floor Thursday. "We played inside-out and guys were really passing up shots for guys to get even better shots."
Detroit had little problems keeping the lead and maintaining it in the second half.
After the Knicks closed to 51-39, the Pistons pulled away with a 15-6 run in which Hamilton scored eight points. They held the Knicks without a basket for over five minutes.
"Tonight was a game where we were locked in defensively and aggressively dictated what kind of shots they were going to get," Saunders said. "I thought offensively we were able to do what we wanted."
"They executed great, they defended great," said Brown, who had his contract bought out in Detroit and signed a five-year deal to coach in New York. "They did everything tonight. I guess that allows them to win 32 games."
Detroit shot 51 percent (42-of-83), including 12-of-25 from the arc. The Pistons also got 23 points from Wallace and 18 from Tayshaun Prince, who knocked down four 3-pointers apiece.
Things were so bad for the Knicks during the decisive spurt that they committed turnovers on four consecutive possessions.
"That was embarrassing," said Knicks guard Jamal Crawford, whose only points came in garbage time in the fourth. "We have to have a better effort than that."
"Detroit played world championship basketball," New York rookie forward Channing Frye said. "They came out and executed and whooped us."
The Knicks lost their fourth in a row following a season-high six-game winning streak.
New York played without starting forward Antonio Davis, who began a five-game suspension for running into the stands Wednesday in Chicago. The Knicks also played a second straight game without starting point guard Stephon Marbury, who is out with a sprained left shoulder.
"It hurts us not having Steph (Marbury) and Tony (Davis)," Brown said. "But again they (Detroit) are at a whole different level than we are right now. From coaching to playing to execution to effort - that is why they have only lost five games."
Eddy Curry led the Knicks with 26 points. Frye added 15 as New York committed 20 turnovers and were handed its sixth consecutive loss to the Pistons.