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New York scores season-low 61

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Larry Brown provided the only
intrigue in an otherwise boring night of basketball.

Before and after Detroit beat New York 91-61 on Saturday night,
Brown passed on chances to shoot down rumors about him possibly
leaving the Pistons after the season to coach the Knicks.

The Hall of Fame coach, who has three-plus years left on his
contract, didn't meet with the media before the game for the first
time in his 1½ seasons with the Pistons.

Then Brown, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., passed on the
postgame news conference, sending assistant coach Gar Heard.

"I've got the flu," Brown said in a brief interview with The
Associated Press on his cell phone from his office. "Sorry, that's
all I have to say."

Knicks coach Herb Williams, who replaced Lenny Wilkens last
week, insisted the Brown-to-New York speculation doesn't bother
him.

"I don't pay any attention to it," Williams said. "Right now,
I'm the coach of the Knicks and to me, that's all that matters.

"The one thing about this league, there's always going to be
speculation. I played for 18 years, I've been an assistant coach
for three or four years and now I'm the head coach. It hasn't
changed."

What also hasn't changed is New York's slump, or its injuries
woes.

The Knicks were held to their lowest point total of the season --
avoiding their franchise record by three -- as they lost for the
12th time in 14 games.

"We didn't get this road trip off to a very good start," said
Kurt Thomas after New York's first of six straight road games.

Richard Hamilton scored 18 points while Chauncey Billups and
Antonio McDyess each scored 16 points for the Pistons, who moved
into a first-place tie with Cleveland in the Central Division with
their third straight win.

"We know the second half of the season is almost upon us, and
we have to get our act together," said Rasheed Wallace, who had
nine points and eight rebounds. "So far, so good."

New York's Jamal Crawford had 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting.
Stephon Marbury didn't score until early in the second quarter and
finished with just 10 points, half his average.

The Knicks, whose previous low this season was 73 points in a
loss to Boston on Nov. 6, made just 36.1 percent of their shots.

"This team is getting back to its defensive principle by making
it hard for a team to score," Heard said.

New York's Penny Hardaway sat out because of a sprained right
ankle, one night after returning from a hamstring injury that
sidelined him for more than three weeks.

The Knicks lost another small forward during the game, when
Trevor Ariza sprained his left ankle late in the third quarter
after landing on Ronald Dupree's foot.

Less than a minute earlier, Ariza inadvertently hit Detroit's
Carlos Arroyo on the nose and broke it. Arroyo will have surgery
Monday and is expected to wear a protective mask when he returns.
He is doubtful for Detroit's game Tuesday at Washington.

Even an official was hurt in the game, which was sloppy from
start to finish.

Official Michael Smith left with a possible neck injury and was
taken to a hospital for X-rays. His neck snapped back when he was
hit in the face with a basketball in the second quarter.

The Pistons turned the game into a rout in the third quarter.
They started the fourth with a 66-48 lead after leading by just
four at halftime.

Game notes
The NBA champion Pistons will visit the White House on
Monday, but Rasheed Wallace is not excited. "I didn't vote for
him," he said. ... Pistons reserve Darvin Ham (flu) left the arena
before the game started. ... Brown was fined $35,000 by the NBA on
Saturday for criticizing officials after a loss to Minnesota on
Monday. ... The Pistons presented UNICEF with a check for $75,000
at halftime to aid its tsunami relief efforts.