Pistons move up in East after knocking off Knicks

NEW YORK -- This didn't look like a club fighting for a No. 7 or 8 seed. These resembled the old Detroit Pistons, who used to beat up on those types of teams in the playoffs.

Richard Hamilton scored 22 points, Rasheed Wallace had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and the Pistons rolled into a tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference by beating the New York Knicks 113-86 on Wednesday night.

Antonio McDyess added 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Pistons, who pulled even with Chicago for the No. 7 seed and lowered their magic number to one to clinch their eighth consecutive playoff berth. Detroit will be back in the postseason with its next victory or one more loss by Charlotte.

With the Allen Iverson experiment over because of his bad back and with Hamilton and Wallace healthy again, the Pistons believe there's still time to find their form for the playoffs after a disappointing regular season.

"We know we're a lot better. We let a lot of games slip away this year, we'll take any seed though," guard Rodney Stuckey said. "I think our main focus right now is getting into the playoffs and just getting in the groove before we get there."

The seventh spot means avoiding a first-round matchup with Cleveland, which is on the verge of locking up the top seed in the East.

Tayshaun Prince scored 15 points and Stuckey finished with 14 for the Pistons in a game that was never competitive. Detroit scored the first 10 points and led by double digits for the final 43-plus minutes. Detroit shot 54 percent, led by as much as 32, and won its second straight following a three-game losing streak.

Al Harrington scored 26 points and Wilson Chandler had 23 for New York (30-49), which lost for the 12th time in 14 games and will need to win its final three to avoid another 50-loss season. Perhaps tired from a game in Chicago the previous night, the Knicks had no interest in defending, and their offense was largely terrible as well.

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said his team "just sagged" and "didn't compete."

"Our guys got overwhelmed and we lost a lot of our mojo and a lot of determination, which is inexcusable but it happens, and that's more or less the story of the game," D'Antoni said.

The Pistons scored the first 10 points of the game in just 2 1/2 minutes, part of their 10-for-12 start from the field. They increased the lead to 30-9 on a 3-pointer by Wallace with 2:45 left in the first quarter and were up 37-20 heading to the second after Stuckey's jumper as time expired.

"We pretty much scored on a lot of things in the first quarter to get us off to a good start," Prince said. "And I think against those guys, to get off to a good start, if they miss a couple of 3s you can continue to build the momentum."

Detroit made 22 of its first 33 shots, opening a 29-point bulge late in the half after consecutive baskets by Prince. The Pistons led 63-39 at the break.

Hamilton scored 12 points in the third, when the Knicks never cut the deficit below 23 points. It was a rare full game at Madison Square Garden for Hamilton, who had been ejected from games here three times in the last four years, and was tossed from the Pistons' victory over Charlotte on Sunday.

"I saved my money tonight. I didn't get no technicals," Hamilton said. "I got the opportunity to walk off the court on my own and get a win. I tried everything different this time. I told Sheed I'd never get ejected two straight games."

The Pistons' lead ballooned into the 30s in the final quarter. Possibly because they're used to meaningless games in April, the New York fans hardly booed the Knicks.

Told of D'Antoni's comments, Knicks guard Chris Duhon said: "He's right. We didn't compete. The scoreboard showed it."

Game notes
Detroit evened the series at 2-all. The Knicks were trying to win the season series for first time since going 2-1 in 2000-01. ... Wallace was 4-for-4 for 10 points in the first quarter. ... With the Knicks getting blown out, D'Antoni gave playing time to both his former NBA Development League players, Courtney Sims and Joe Crawford. When Crawford checked in, there were two Joe Crawfords on the floor; Joey Crawford was one of the officials working the game.