The New York Knicks have shown great improvement from a team that won eight road games all of last season. Now they face the challenge of trying to win in an arena where they have lost eight straight.
The Knicks on Friday will try to end their skid at the Palace of Auburn Hills when they face the surging Detroit Pistons, who are going for their eighth win in a row overall.
New York (6-11) is playing better on the road under new coach Isiah Thomas, an 11-time All-Star with the Pistons (10-5) from 1981-1994, but playing in suburban Detroit has been a bad experience for the Knicks in recent years.
New York hasn’t posted a win there since March 27, 2002, and most of the games during that slide haven’t been close, as they’ve been outscored by an average of 12.9 points.
The Knicks improved to 5-5 away from Madison Square Garden this season after a 101-98 win in Cleveland on Wednesday. The Knicks were tied with Atlanta for the second-fewest road wins last season, and didn’t pick up their fifth road triumph until March 4 when, in their 59th game, they beat Milwaukee by five points.
“This is a new team,” Knicks center Eddy Curry said. “Same guys, but we have a new attitude.”
Curry, who scored just two points in 21 minutes in his only game at Detroit last season, has been a big reason for New York’s road turnaround this season.
Curry scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter against the Cavaliers, and has scored at least 20 points in his last three road games.
“I wouldn’t even see the fourth quarter, let alone the ball,” Curry said. “But that was last year.”
Curry averaged 13.6 points last season, and got off to a slow start this year before turning things around. After averaging 12.7 points and 6.2 rebounds in his first 12 games, Curry is averaging 20.6 points 7.2 rebounds in his last five.
“He’s the guy,” said teammate Jamal Crawford. “He’s the guy we go through. It’s great to see him take over down the stretch.”
Quentin Richardson scored 27 points—including five 3-pointers—on Wednesday after totaling 31 points in his last five games combined. Crawford, who’s averaging a team-high 16.5 points per game, had 40 points and 12 assists in his two games at Detroit last season.
Despite a 1-6 home record, the Knicks are tied with Toronto for fourth place and are just one game out of first in the Atlantic Division.
The Pistons barely won their seventh in a row by holding off Miami 87-85 on Thursday in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals. Richard Hamilton scored a team-high 24 points, and held Dwyane Wade to 21 points on 5-for-23 shooting.
Wade had scored 33 points in each his previous three games, and nearly tied it but his 19-foot jumper with 2 seconds left barely reached the rim.
“When it got close, Rip made a couple of big shots, and he did a great job defensively,” Detroit coach Flip Saunders said.
Hamilton averaged 26.8 points against the Knicks last season, including a season-high 40 points in a 106-98 win on Dec. 2. He’s averaging 22.2 points so far this season.
Detroit has scored 100 points or more in five of its last seven games, after breaking the 100-point mark twice in its first eight games. Also, Detroit has won its last four home games to improve to 5-2 there.
The Pistons have won seven of their last eight against the Knicks overall, including three of four in 2005-06.