NEW YORK - A three-game trip through Texas can be a rough week for some teams but it just might be the thing that saves the New York Knicks' season.
The Knicks took two of three in Texas and return home with some momentum when they host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. New York knocked off San Antonio, suffered a two-point loss in Houston and put up a strong defensive effort in a 92-80 victory at the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.
Carmelo Anthony (ankle) rejoined the team for the Texas triangle and averaged 23.7 points in the three contests, but defense and the bench were the key to the win in Dallas.
"Like I've said since I've been here," New York coach Mike Woodson told reporters, "it doesn't matter who it comes from, we've just got to be a team and everyone has to do their part."
That win brought the Knicks within 2 1/2 games of the Pistons, owners of the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference.
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ABOUT THE PISTONS (14-20): Detroit is looking for its own momentum to swing in the other direction after four straight losses by an average of 19 points, culminating in a 112-84 pummeling at home by the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. The Pistons own one of the top front lines in the league in Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith but were dominated on the boards 59-43 by the Grizzlies while the point guard combination of Brandon Jennings and Will Bynum combined to shoot 5-of-25.
"I have to do a better job of trying to figure out how to get the ball from one side to the other," coach Maurice Cheeks said. "That's on me. That's not on (the players)."
ABOUT THE KNICKS (11-22): Anthony drew praise after the Dallas game for his willingness to move the ball and set up his teammates, finishing with five assists for a New York squad that is down to its third-string point guard due to injuries to Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni.
The Knicks lost Tyson Chandler to an upper respiratory infection minutes into the contest and Kenyon Martin played heavy minutes on a sprained ankle against the Mavericks. Those two are day-to-day along with Amar'e Stoudemire, who tweaked his hip late at Dallas, leaving the Knicks potentially thin against the Pistons' big front line.
1. Monroe and Drummond each recorded a double-double and Smith scored 19 points in a 92-86 home win over the Knicks on Nov. 19.
2. Felton (groin) is expected back from a six-game absence on Tuesday.
3. Smith is shooting 28.6 percent during the four-game slide.
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