Broken Wings
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L
61
91
New York @
61 - 91
Record: 18-25
Ariza is helped off the court by coach Saunders and Moochie (AP Photo)
Ariza is helped off the court by coach Saunders and Moochie (AP Photo)
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 1 1/2 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.

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.

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