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Knicks prepare for Brooklyn by beating Pistons

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks will begin an intriguing new era Monday when they play their first intra-city game against the Brooklyn Nets. However, as the Knicks pointed out Sunday, it can't quite be considered a rivalry just yet.

But the buzz for the first bout between two New York teams in Brooklyn on Monday has already caught on around the city. So, the Knicks were glad to enter that game coming off Sunday's 121-100 win over the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden, which helped ease the sting of back-to-back losses for the first time this season.

Carmelo Anthony led a balanced effort for the Knicks (9-3), scoring 15 of his 29 points in the first quarter, and he got help from five other Knicks who scored in double-digits. The Knicks hit 17 of 33 three-pointers, with Steve Novak drilling 5 of 7 to score 18 points and Rasheed Wallace hitting three of his own to score 15. Raymond Felton had 14 points and 10 assists.

The Knicks defense also rebounded from its worst game of the season, a 131-103 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday.

"We wanted to bounce back today," Anthony said after the Knicks moved to 5-0 at home. "Got back to playing the defense we know how to play. We really locked in and that's important.

"If we don't get up for this game, I don't know what games we will get up for," Anthony later added of the matchup against the Nets. "It is an in-city game ... New York vs. Brooklyn."

Brandon Knight scored 21 points and Charlie Villanueva added 17 for the Pistons, who struggled to catch up to the Knicks all day. Detroit (3-11), which entered the game with wins in two of its last three games, took an early 4-0 lead. But the Knicks moved ahead about midway through the first quarter and never relinquished the lead. Detroit trimmed a 20-point halftime deficit to eight late in the third quarter, but the Knicks, thanks largely to two three-pointers from Novak, pushed the advantage back up to 86-72 entering the fourth quarter.

"They hit 17 threes and scored 85 points on jump shots," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "Our inability to defend the ball, the pick-and-roll situations, there were times we were there but we don't close out hard enough. ... Then when we cut it to eight, had some chances, then Novak hits those threes."

The victory allowed the Knicks to feel better than they had after feeling as though they had "run out of gas," as Wallace said on their three-game road trip.

After Anthony's hot hand erased the early deficit, the Knicks gradually used their outside shooting prowess to build a 64-44 halftime lead.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson said he wasn't concerned with the Knicks taking so many three-pointers because they have "guys who can make 'em," as evidenced by the team shooting 51.5 percent from long distance.

Detroit opened the third quarter on a 13-3 run, thanks largely to five points from Kyle Singler, to cut the Knicks' lead to 67-57 with 8:18 left in the third.

They got the lead down to eight, 77-69, on a layup by Knight with three minutes left in the third. But New York quickly answered, as Novak hit his pair of threes and Anthony scored three points during a 9-3 stretch to end the third quarter with the Knicks up 86-72.

"Novak was good today," Woodson said. "He made shots. We need him to make shots as we go through this journey."

The journey next includes a stop in Brooklyn on Monday, in the makeup to the originally scheduled season-opener, which was canceled in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy.

Several Knicks indicated their first game at Brooklyn would have special meaning, but also acknowledged it could not be considered a rivalry just yet.

But Anthony, a Brooklyn native, was eager to embrace playing in his home borough and said he's been excited to watch Brooklyn make its mark as a pro sports franchise.

"For me, going back home to that borough, playing my first game over there, is a very special moment," said Anthony, who added that hearing Nets fans scream "Brooklyn!" on TV "kind of gives me goosebumps.

"I'll be clear-headed tomorrow, clear-minded. (But) just to step on that court and see the Brooklyn logo, I'll feel like I'm home."

NOTES: Pistons center Greg Monroe reached a pair of milestones Sunday after scoring 12 points and notching three steals. He passed the 2,000-point mark for his career and also registered his 200th career steal. ... Wallace returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game with a sore left foot. ... Knicks center Marcus Camby, who did not play Friday, was back in the rotation Sunday to help combat some of the Pistons' size.
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