Prince bounced back from a horrendous game in his last trip to Madison Square Garden, scoring 28 points and leading the Pistons to a 101-97 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night.
Rodney Stuckey added 13 for the Pistons, who rebounded from a 90-78 loss in a showdown of Eastern Conference powers Wednesday in Boston and lowered their magic number to one for clinching their seventh straight playoff berth.
Prince was 0-of-10 from the field and scoreless in the Pistons' 89-65 loss here on Jan. 13, their most lopsided defeat of the season and one of the poorest offensive performances in team history. He went 9-for-17 this time, capped by a clutch runner that gave Detroit a 99-95 lead with 9.9 seconds left.
"Last game we didn't move the ball well. Tonight we moved the ball," Prince said. "Obviously we knew we had to move the ball very well with Rasheed and Rip out of the game. We just moved the ball and got everybody touching the ball and everybody involved. So when that happens, the stat sheet just looks like it was, [with] guys in double figures off the bench and the starting lineup."
He combined with the reserves to help the Pistons overcome the absence of starting forward Wallace, sidelined by a sprained left ankle, and leading scorer Hamilton's ejection late in the first half.
"I thought our bench won this game for us, easy," said Chauncey Billups, who also scored 12. "They came in and was phenomenal. They picked up the speed of the game, they got easy shots, they got rebounds, they got blocks. They just really took great advantage of the minutes that they had, kept us afloat in the game and Tayshaun carried us tonight. So it was a great win."
Eddy Curry scored 23 points and Jamal Crawford had 17 for the Knicks, who lost their fifth in a row. It was the third time in five nights, following losses to New Orleans and Cleveland, where New York was close with a top team in the final minutes and couldn't pull it out.
"We definitely had our chances and our opportunities," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "We just have to figure out a way to keep getting better those last three, four mintues of the game where we execute a little better."
The Knicks were again without starting forward Zach Randolph, who has a bruised right foot and returned home to Indiana on Thursday for a personal matter. He is expected to miss Saturday's game here against Portland and rejoin the Knicks in Dallas for their game Monday.
David Lee replaced Randolph and finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Detroit led by eight with 3 minutes left, then went cold offensively as New York closed to 97-95 on Crawford's free throws with 34 seconds to play. Prince answered with his bucket, and after Curry scored inside, Billups made two free throws to clinch it.
"It's definitely frustrating, but that's why they are a championship-caliber team," Crawford said. "They know exactly where they want to get their points from, and whatever is working they're going to go with it. They had a couple of guys out with Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace, but Billups, Prince and those guys stepped it up."
The Pistons had a 13-point lead midway through the second quarter, but lost that -- and their poise -- by halftime. Hamilton was thrown out during the Knicks' late run after getting two technical fouls for arguing with referee David Guthrie with 43 seconds left, and Nate Robinson's layup with 1.2 remaining tied it at 53.
The Knicks host Portland on Saturday to close a stretch of four home games in six nights. It will be the first time they played at Madison Square Garden on consecutive nights since Dec. 13-14, 2003. ... Pistons coach Flip Saunders on injured and controversial Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury, whom he coached in Minnesota: "He's put up numbers, but the teams have struggled and usually when the team's struggling and you're the highest-paid guy on the team, you're the guy that gets all the blame. Him and the coach. I still think that he's got a lot left in his tank and he's still a good player." Marbury shared a pregame handshake with coach Isiah Thomas, with whom he has feuded this season, after they ran into each other in the hallway.