The Detroit Pistons have been the model of stability in the Eastern Conference over the last several seasons. The New York Knicks are searching for whatever stability they can find.
After Knicks president and coach Isiah Thomas made another vow to stick with the chaotic club, his team will try to avoid its 10th loss in 11 games when it hosts the Central Division-leading Pistons on Sunday.
Thomas said Saturday that he has no plans to vacate either of his positions with the team. He has served as president for four years, and was named head coach after Larry Brown was fired in June 2006. Thomas said he hasn't even considered focusing solely on his executive role, despite his 42-75 record as the Knicks' coach.
"I've never given it that thought. I only think about how fix it, how to make it right," said Thomas, who won two NBA championships during a 13-year playing career spent entirely with Detroit. "That's all my time and energy is focused on and until I do that, I'll be here trying to make it right.
"I'm hellbent on fixing it and I don't like that we're in this situation, but we are and I don't plan on leaving it."
Thomas has a lot of work to do to restore the Knicks to respectability. New York (9-26) has lost nine of 10, and 15 of its last 18 games to fall to the bottom of the Atlantic Division. In the East, only Miami has a worse record.
Detroit (28-9), meanwhile, trails only league-best Boston in the race for the East's top record. The Pistons, who have finished in the conference's top three in each of the last six seasons, have won 13 of their last 15 games with their only losses in that stretch coming against Boston and Southwest Division leader Dallas.
Detroit was tested on Saturday, but pulled out a 103-100 overtime victory against Charlotte, thanks in part to Richard Hamilton's 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Hamilton made the go-ahead jumper with 16.2 seconds left in overtime, and clinched the win with free throws in the final second.
Hamilton, though, made just two of his nine 3-point attempts - the most he's ever taken in a single game during his nine-year career.
"I thought he was at the state fair or something trying to win a stuffed animal," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said.
While Saunders playfully teased his players after their win, Thomas was left with more turmoil after New York's latest defeat. Zach Randolph appeared frustrated with Thomas when he was benched for the final 31-plus minutes of Friday night's 99-90 loss to Toronto.
"Any player would get upset because they want to play," Randolph said after the game. "I want to play. I love playing. I want to be out there."
It was the second mid-game incident in three weeks for Thomas, who also had a heated exchange with Quentin Richardson during a loss at Charlotte on Dec. 21.
"I'm sure he's frustrated, just like we all are frustrated, and the one thing I know about him is that he wants to play," Thomas said of Randolph. "Every player wants to play. No one likes to be taken out of the game. And so we'll just move on."
The Knicks will try to snap out of their slump against the Pistons, who have won 10 of the last 12 games in the series.
Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups had 25 points and 15 assists as Detroit continued its dominance of New York with a 98-86 victory at home on Nov. 21. Eddy Curry led the Knicks with 26 points in that game.
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