NEW YORK (AP) - The New York Knicks entered their locker room Saturday to find pictures of the Larry O'Brien trophy hanging above their lockers.
Before the Knicks can entertain any thoughts of competing for an NBA championship, they needed to know Amare Stoudemire's back was OK.
``There's nothing to be worried about,' Stoudemire said.
There never was this season against the Detroit Pistons.
Tyson Chandler had 15 points and tied a season high with 17 rebounds, and the Knicks rebounded from their first loss under Mike Woodson by routing the Pistons for the third time this season, 101-79.
Stoudemire scored 17 points for the Knicks before sitting out the fourth quarter after his back stiffened up. Any hopes the Knicks had of advancing in last season's playoffs were wrecked when he injured his back in Game 2 of an eventual first-round sweep by the Boston Celtics, and with Stoudemire finally playing well recently after a subpar 2 1/2 months, New York can't afford him to go out now - especially with a potentially pivotal game against Milwaukee coming Monday.
``I saw him after the game and he said everything was cool,' Carmelo Anthony said. ``He just (said) it tightened up on him and he didn't want to take no chances.'
The Knicks improved to 6-1 since Mike D'Antoni resigned heading into Monday's game against the Bucks, whom they lead by 1 1/2 games for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks lost 96-79 on Friday night in Toronto, which apparently became the inspiration for the new decorations in their recently renovated locker room that went up sometime during the game.
``We felt like we let one go and we didn't come out with the energy that we needed to in that game,' Chandler said. ``We wanted to come out tonight with a purpose and get back on the right track.'
Anthony finally got his shot to fall in the third quarter and finished with 15 points, while Jeremy Lin had 13. The bench put it away early in the fourth, allowing some banged-up Knicks to get some extra rest. Lin sat down with a sore left knee but could have returned, and he also said afterward he expected to be OK.
Ben Gordon scored 20 points for Detroit, which lost its fifth straight.
The Pistons are playing without guards Rodney Stuckey (sore left big toe) and Will Bynum (virus) and lacked energy during a difficult portion of their schedule. They came home from a five-game Western trip to lose to Miami on Friday night, then went right back on the road to open a four-game trip Saturday. They shot 37 percent.
``Everybody is fatigued. They just came off a back-to-back like us. That's never an excuse in this league,' center Greg Monroe said. ``Everybody has to play back-to-back, triples. It's never an excuse to blame it on the season.'
New York beat Detroit by scores of 103-80 and 113-86 earlier this season, and needed less than a half to get a big lead that was never really challenged this time.
The Pistons tied it at 31 on two free throws by Jonas Jerebko with 5:28 left in the second quarter, then managed just six points the rest of the half. The Knicks ran off 13 in a row, with Lin's 3-pointer making it 44-31 with 2:33 remaining, and it was 49-37 at the break.
``They dominated the paint,' Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. ``You look at it, they were plus-20 points in the paint, plus-24 in the boards. They had 18 offensive rebounds. I think they had seven steals in the fourth quarter. It's frustrating. You got to give them credit but they were definitely the aggressors in the paint, which hurts.'
The only problem in the first half was the continued struggles of Anthony.
The All-Star forward shot 37 percent in his previous five games and was just 1 of 7 in the first half, appearing frustrated by his struggles. Baron Davis appeared to be giving him some encouragement after one badly missed jumper, and Anthony screamed out loud after missing on a drive to the basket.
He got an easy bucket inside early in the third and that got him going. He made 4-of-5 shots in the period, finishing 5 of 12. Stoudemire hit all three shots for seven points in the quarter as the Knicks blew it open.
JR Smith finished with 14 points for the Knicks.
Notes: The Knicks said reserve forward Jared Jeffries is expected to miss two weeks because of inflammation in his right knee. Woodson said he needed to rest the knee and strengthen it. ... Woodson said the Knicks are considering sending seldom-used center Jerome Jordan back to the NBA Development League to get in some games. ... The coaches could have been on opposite benches had things played out differently last offseason. Woodson was a candidate in Detroit, where he was an assistant under Larry Brown on the Pistons' 2004 NBA championship team, and also interviewed for openings in Houston and Minnesota. Had he not ended up back in Detroit, Frank likely would have been the top choice to take the role as the Knicks' top defensive assistant to D'Antoni.
The Associated Press News Service
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