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Pistons-Knicks Preview

AP - Sports

The New York Knicks are set to begin a critical stretch at home after their perfect start under interim coach Mike Woodson came to a crashing halt.

The Knicks look to recover from having their five-game win streak snapped when they host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.

New York (23-25) won every game under Woodson before falling 96-79 at Toronto on Friday by shooting 37.6 percent in its lowest-scoring effort since the second game of the season.

"Everybody struggled to make shots, and I mean wide-open shots,'' Woodson said. "I thought we moved the ball but we just couldn't make shots and defensively we couldn't get stops. That's a bad combination.''

Carmelo Anthony had 12 points on 6-of-15 shooting, missing all four 3-pointers. He's shooting 38.9 percent in 12 games this month, including 26.2 percent on 3-pointers.

"I just don't have a rhythm offensively," Anthony said. "I never thought I'd be saying it but my defense is ahead of my offense right now. I'll take it. But as far as my shot goes, I still have confidence in my shot, that's not going anywhere, it'll come back."

The Knicks' lead for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot was cut to one-half game over Milwaukee, which visits New York on Monday in the middle game of this three-game homestand.

New York is 3-0 at home under Woodson, winning by an average of 25.3 points and shooting 44.3 percent on 3-pointers.

The Knicks won twice by an average of 25.0 points over the Pistons (16-31) in January as they seek their first season sweep since going 4-0 in 1995-96. New York shot 52.9 percent in those January victories which occurred before Jeremy Lin's rise to his current role as starter.

Lin made 3 of 9 shots for six points and four assists Friday. Steve Novak hit 5 of 9 3-pointers, but the rest of the Knicks missed all 19 attempts from long range.

"I just didn't see energy tonight,'' Woodson said. "We were a step slow from the very beginning. We've got to play at a much higher level than we did tonight.''

Detroit lost its fourth straight, 88-73 to Miami on Friday. The Pistons shot 38.7 percent and committed 23 turnovers.

"I think we threw the ball away way too much and they got easy buckets," forward Jonas Jerebko said. "If that's their defense or not, I think we were a little sloppy tonight."

Detroit was without second-leading scorer Rodney Stuckey, out with a sore left big toe. Greg Monroe, who averages 16.3 points, was held to five.

While both teams are playing the second halves of back-to-back games, fatigue seems to be affecting the Pistons more. They returned home after their five-game road trip ended Wednesday in Denver, and now begin another four-game trip.

"We just came back at four in the morning (Thursday), slept all day, had a game today and now were off on the road for nine days," Jerebko said. "It's the same for all the teams, not much to say. We love playing basketball."

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