NEW YORK -- Nate Robinson might always be best known as a dunker, especially if he becomes the first three-time champion of the slam dunk contest.
He's much more than just a high flyer, though.
"I'm an all-around player," Robinson said.
Chosen earlier in the day to defend his slam dunk title at All-Star weekend, Robinson made five 3-pointers, one during a 7-0 spurt that started the fourth quarter and gave the Knicks the lead for good.
"My teammates and my coach told me that I had to be aggressive, that's just who I am," Robinson said. "They said in the last couple of games I hadn't been that aggressive."
Fellow reserve Al Harrington and Wilson Chandler each added 17 points as the Knicks bounced back from consecutive losses, including Saturday's 94-90 defeat in Detroit, and improved to 18-6 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Rodney Stuckey scored 22 for the short-handed Pistons, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. They led after three quarters with a gutty effort but simply didn't have enough firepower with four of their top six scorers out.
Already missing Ben Gordon (strained right groin), Tayshaun Prince (sore left knee) and Will Bynum (sprained left ankle), the Pistons were even further weakened when Richard Hamilton came down with an upset stomach.
Detroit hung around into the fourth quarter, but Stuckey appeared to run out of gas, scoring his only two points of the period in the final minute.
"Listen, I am very proud of my guys. But I thought as hard as we fought, we come back and take the lead, you've got to show poise in that situation," Detroit coach John Kuester said. "I thought we did a great job in the third quarter. We had to go to our bench. We needed our bench to come through in that situation and it didn't happen."
Robinson did most of his damage in his 13-point second quarter from the perimeter, though he thrilled the crowd late in the period with a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Chris Duhon for a 12-point lead. The Knicks led 57-43 at the half.
Robinson was benched for 14 games last month before coach Mike D'Antoni returned him to the rotation, needing the guard's energy off the bench especially now with Duhon struggling.
"He gives us something that we need and that's athleticism," D'Antoni said. "Again, you have to have everything else, the defense and sound play, but he does give us something that we need. I thought he played well."
Detroit turned it around by holding the Knicks to 11 points in the third, their worst quarter of the season, and led 70-68 going to the final period.
The Pistons were down only one with 10 minutes left before Harrington, Danilo Gallinari and Robinson made 3-pointers in a 13-4 spurt that gave the Knicks an 88-78 lead, and they held on from there.
"It's tough. Rip, B.G., Tay, Chris Wilcox couldn't go. We were short-handed but we put on a fight," Villanueva said. "There's a game of spurts you know. They made their run. We made our run. Just didn't get the stops where it really mattered the most, down in the fourth quarter, down the stretch."
Gallinari finished with 16 points and David Lee had 11 points and 15 rebounds for New York. The Knicks missed their first six shots in falling behind 7-0, made five of their next six to grab the lead, and it was tied at 23 after one.
The Knicks improved to 17-24 at the halfway point of their schedule, the same record they had last season before finishing 32-50.
Eddy Curry is expected to miss about six weeks after knee surgery, the latest setback for the injury-plagued Knicks center. The team said he would have an arthroscopic procedure on Monday to remove loose cartilage in his left knee and begin rehabilitation within a week. Curry has played only seven games this season. ... Robinson will compete against Gerald Wallace, Shannon Brown, and either DeMar DeRozan or Eric Gordon on Feb. 13 in Dallas. ... Stuckey came in averaging 21.9 points when Hamilton and Gordon are out.
- Mark Wunderlich
- Pat Fraher
- Derek Richardson