Melo a no-show during loss -- and after

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- If you are looking for an explanation from Carmelo Anthony for his worst game as a member of the New York Knicks, read no further. He didn't provide one.

Instead, he bolted for the team bus and stayed there, hiding. A Knicks team official later passed along word that Anthony would not be emerging to face the music.

"Any time you lose against Detroit, out of respect to them they're a pretty good ball team, but they're not in the playoff hunt and we are, and we're trying to get a better seeding, so to lose tonight is not a proud moment for us," said Amare Stoudemire, the only member of the Knicks starting lineup who played decently.


He was 0-for-5 in the fourth quarter, 2-for-12 overall and scored just six points, looking disengaged except for the instance when he yelled for a foul to be called when he drove to the hoop and appeared to get hit across the arms by Chris Wilcox with 38 seconds remaining and the Knicks trailing by two.

That missed shot (and the non-call) wasn't the final back-breaker for the Knicks, nor was it Anthony's final miss. He added a brick from the corner in the waning seconds after the Pistons grabbed a key offensive rebound with 13 seconds remaining, allowing Will Bynum to go to the line for a pair of free throws that clinched Detroit's 99-95 victory Friday night.

It was yet another bad loss to a bad team, made all the worse by the fact that the Knicks used a 17-0 third-quarter run to seemingly take control -- only to blow what became an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter by being outscored 29-17 in the final period.

New York did not score a single point in the final 2:36, missing their final six shots -- two by point guard Chauncey Billups, who committed eight turnovers and was moved to shooting guard in favor of Toney Douglas (20 points, 11 assists, four more 3-pointers), two by Anthony and one apiece by Shawne Williams and Stoudemire.

The Pistons only scored five points over that span, but both the go-ahead bucket (a putback slam by Wilcox) and the clinching points came off of offensive rebounds as Detroit made all the extra-effort plays at crunch time.

So the Knicks are 7-7 since the big trade, and the chemistry that has seemed so fluid on some nights has shown it can vaporize in an instant.

"We just got to buy into Mike D'Antoni's system. It works. I've been a part of it for a long time now, and it's been very successful. We just have to buy into it and get it done," Stoudemire said. "We've proven it works with the team we had before the trade, and it can work with the guys we have now. So it's just a matter of us buying into it.

"It's new for most of the guys, so it takes time for them to go out and understand how it works. So I think over time it'll grow on them," Stoudemire said. "Hopefully it turns around soon."

D'Antoni said he was not disappointed with the shots the Knicks got down the stretch, including a pick-and-roll layup attempt by Stoudemire in which the shot didn't have enough oomph to make it over the rim, 3-point attempts by Billups and Shawne Williams that preceded Wilcox's go-ahead slam, and Anthony's drive to the bucket that didn't produce the whistle Anthony felt he deserved.

"He just really didn't get a lot of opportunities at the basket," Billups said of Anthony. "They denied him, they fronted him when he tried to take them down to his sweet spot, they were bringing a guy over playing behind him, and he was just getting a lot of attention and never really got a chance to play with just one person on him and get to a spot where he could get comfortable."

But this game also was lost during the middle of the fourth quarter when the Knicks once again could not get defensive stops, allowing the Pistons to score on 10 of 12 offensive possessions despite Detroit using a lineup comprised almost entirely of bench players. For instance, Will Bynum did not play at all in the first three quarters and then played all 12 minutes of the fourth.

So the Knicks move on to Milwaukee for a Sunday afternoon matinee against another one of the dregs of the East before returning home for a pair of measuring-stick games Monday and Wednesday against two of the elite teams in the conference, Boston and Orlando.

By then, they'll have 15 games under their belts since the trade -- enough time to at least start to show some of the cohesion and continuity that has been a fleeting dynamic.

One night they look great. Other nights they look lousy.

There's no telling whether it will be one or the other, and it is clearly frustrating every member of the Knicks.

All of them said as much Friday, except for one guy.

That would be Anthony, who sat behind the shaded windows of the team bus wearing a pair of sunglasses, keeping his thoughts and his explanations to himself.

Patrick Ewing never would have pulled that type of stunt. Even Stephon Marbury wouldn't have snuck off without at least one caustic blast.

But Melo did, and it was a terribly unprofessional thing to do.

Maybe on Sunday (the Knicks are off Saturday) he'll explain why he ran away.

Until then, the stench of this loss will linger on the player who stunk up the joint the most in the fourth quarter and then was as mum as a mime -- Carmelo Anthony.