Knicks 97, Pistons 103
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L
97
103
New York @ Detroit
97 - 103
Record: 22-58
Nate Robinson was the high-scorer for the Knicks again (AP Photo)
Nate Robinson was the high-scorer for the Knicks again (AP Photo)
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) - The Detroit Pistons did not celebrate after setting a franchise record for wins with a 103-97 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Some of them barely even noticed.

"This doesn't matter at all," said Lindsey Hunter , who was also a part of Detroit's 20-62 season a dozen years ago. "We want the championship."

The Pistons (64-16) broke the mark of 63 wins set by the 1988-89 Bad Boys NBA champs, a team led by current Knicks president Isiah Thomas.

"That's a great feat," Chauncey Billups said. "It feels good to accomplish that, especially in a storied franchise like this with the Bad Boys."

Detroit has two games left before starting the playoffs as the league's top seed.

"This is what we've been waiting for," Rasheed Wallace said. "We got up for a couple teams, but we weren't really excited about the regular season. We've been waiting for the playoffs since Game 7 last year."

The Pistons took care of business early on Sunday. They got a three-point lead from Tayshaun Prince three seconds after the opening tip, led by double digits after just 98 seconds and were up by as many as 27 in the first quarter.

"That was embarrassing," Knicks guard Jamal Crawford said. "I've never seen a game quite like that. We got behind really fast."

The Knicks (22-58), who need to win their last two games to avoid tying a franchise record for losses, were without coach Larry Brown because of a stomach ailment and dressed only 10 players.

Steve Francis (back), Stephon Marbury (knee), Quentin Richardson (thumb) and Channing Frye (knee) were among the missing, while Herb Williams ran the team in place of Brown, who has missed games while coaching both franchises in the last year because of health issues.

"We only get to play five guys at a time, so we're not making any excuses," Williams said. "We turned the ball over, and they were getting layups and three-point plays. When we took those away, they started hitting 3-pointers."

Wallace added 10 points for Detroit, which only had three players reach double figures. Eight Pistons played at least 20 minutes.

"We were running around having fun," Billups said. "We were pretty much playing preseason minutes, which is working out well."

Nate Robinson led the Knicks with 23 points, while Jackie Butler added 18 and nine rebounds.

"That was tough," Robinson said. "That was really tough."

Detroit coach Flip Saunders began emptying his bench early in the second - all 12 Pistons players saw first-half action - but they still led 60-43 at the intermission.

The margin was still 17 after three, and the Pistons' reserves did just enough to keep the Knicks at bay in the fourth.

"Our bench players are meant to play in clusters with the starters," Saunders said. "That's the way Joe (Dumars) built this team, so when you put five bench guys together, they aren't as effective."

New York pulled within six on Butler's hook with 24 seconds left, but chose not to foul as Detroit ran out the clock.

"Do you really think they were going to miss enough free throws?" Williams asked. "I told them not to foul. It was my responsibility."

Crawford seemed mildly surprised by his coach's decision.

"I think I would have fouled if I was out there," he said. "It was a two-possession game. Anything could have happened."

Notes:
Knicks assistant coach Mark Aguirre was also a member of the 1988-89 Pistons. ... Robinson played 14 minutes in the first half despite picking up two fouls in the first 20 seconds of the game. ... The Knicks lost 59 games in 1962-63 and 1985-86. ... The Pistons and Detroit Red Wings are the first teams from the same city to finish with the NBA and NHL's best regular-season record in the same season. ... The Pistons also tied a team record with their 37th home win. They can set a new mark Wednesday against the Wizards.

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