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No mercy: Pistons pound short-handed Knicks

NEW YORK (AP) -- Larry Brown knows what the Pistons have, and he
knows what the Knicks were missing. So he wasn't surprised by what
he saw Thursday night.

Richard Hamilton scored 26 points, Rasheed Wallace added 23, and
Detroit beat undermanned and overmatched New York 105-79 for its
sixth straight victory.

With Antonio Davis suspended for going into the stands the night
before in Chicago and leading scorer Stephon Marbury still injured,
the Knicks trailed by as many as 30 points and matched their worst
loss of the season. They have dropped four in a row in a span of
five nights.

"It was like the JV against the varsity," said Brown, who
coached the Pistons the last two seasons. "I think they could've
beaten us by 50."

Marbury sprained his left shoulder in Monday's loss to
Minnesota, then Davis was ejected from Wednesday's overtime loss in
Chicago for entering the stands to confront a fan he thought was
harassing his wife.

Davis was suspended five games by the NBA on Thursday. With he
and Marbury out, the Knicks were forced to start three rookies for
the first time in 20 years against what many consider the NBA's
best starting five.

"They just did anything they wanted," Brown said. "Rip could
have had 100, actually. It hurts us not having Steph and Tony, but
then again they're at a whole different level than we are right
now."

Tayshaun Prince scored 18 points for the Pistons, who have won
both meetings this season against Brown. He led Detroit to NBA
Finals appearances in both his seasons with the Pistons, including
the 2004 title.

This season's team looks better than either one Brown had. While
improving the best start in franchise history to 32-5, the Pistons
have won every game during their current winning streak by double
digits.

"Kind of how we've been for 37 games," coach Flip Saunders
said. "Different guys lead us over different parts of the game,
play unselfish. Thirty assists, eight turnovers, that's kind of
where we've been when we win games. I think how we played tonight
against New York is pretty much how this team has played through
the first half of this season."

Counting Wednesday's 117-89 victory at Atlanta, Detroit has won
road games on consecutive nights by a combined 54 points. The
Pistons didn't even need much from star guard Chauncey Billups, who
scored only two points on 1-of-7 shooting.

"It seemed like they could look at each other and not call a
play and know exactly what play they're running," Knicks rookie
Nate Robinson said. "They are so poised."

Eddy Curry scored 26 points for New York and Channing Frye had
15. New York last started three rookies on April 12, 1986: Gerald
Wilkins, Bob Thornton and Chris McNealy.

The Pistons needed a little more than 9 minutes to open their
first double-digit lead and were rarely challenged. They scored the
final seven points of the first quarter to take a 28-13 lead, and
they were still up 15 at halftime.

"When a team is short-handed, you can't allow them to hang
around and feed off their emotions," Pistons center Ben Wallace
said. "Knowing that they got guys out, guys want to come out and
play a little extra hard, try to pick it up. You can't afford to
let those type teams hang around too long."

Hamilton had 16 points at halftime, shooting 7-of-9. With
Wallace adding 15, the duo had two fewer points than New York after
24 minutes.

Prince scored 11 points in the third quarter, and the lead
ballooned to 74-59 when he hit consecutive 3-pointers late in the
period. The lead grew to 30 when Wallace and Maurice Evans nailed
back-to-back 3s midway through the fourth.

By then, the fans had already begun booing the Knicks, though
they cheered when Darko Milicic -- rarely used under Brown -- checked
in at the next timeout. Milicic got another big cheer when he
scored with 4:57 remaining and finished with six points in 6
minutes.

Game notes
Ben Wallace blew a sure two points in the first quarter.
Alone on a breakaway after making a steal, he seemed stuck between
trying to dunk and laying the ball in and missed the shot. ... New
York also lost by 26 on Sunday at Toronto. ... With Detroit in
town, the Knicks celebrated "Retro Night" and had Motown
recording artists Martha Reeves and the Vandellas perform at
halftime.