AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Larry Brown provided the only intrigue in an otherwise boring night of basketball.
Before and after Detroit beat New York 91-61 on Saturday night to move into a first-place tie with Cleveland in the Central Division, Brown passed on
chances to shoot down rumors about him possibly leaving the Pistons after the season to coach the Knicks.
The Hall of Fame coach, who has three-plus years left on his contract, didn't meet with the media before the game for the first time in his 1½
seasons with the Pistons.
Then Brown, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., passed on the postgame news conference, sending assistant coach Gar Heard.
"I've got the flu," Brown said in a brief interview with the Associated Press on his cell phone from his office. "Sorry, that's all I have to say."
Brown was quoted in Saturday's editions of the New York Post as saying, "I don't want to get into hypotheticals," but that the Knicks job is a special
"I've dreamed about it a number of times," he told the Post. "Growing up there, being a Knick fan, of course it was my dream. And I've been passed
over a few times. I'm an East Coast person. Red Holzman was my hero growing up. But I'm here. These people [in Detroit] have been wonderful to me. I
want to do my job here and move on. I don't look at myself coaching much longer."
Knicks coach Herb Williams, who replaced Lenny Wilkens last week, said after Saturday's game that the Brown-to-New York speculation doesn't bother
"I don't pay any attention to it," Williams said. "Right now, I'm the coach of the Knicks and to me, that's all that matters.
"The one thing about this league, there's always going to be speculation. I played for 18 years, I've been an assistant coach for three or four years
and now I'm the head coach. It hasn't changed."
What also hasn't changed is New York's slump, or its injuries woes.
The Knicks were held to their lowest point total of the season -- avoiding their franchise record by three -- as they lost for the 12th time in 14
"We didn't get this road trip off to a very good start," said Kurt Thomas after New York's first of six straight road games.
Richard Hamilton scored 18 points while Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess each scored 16 points for the Pistons, who won their third in a row.
"We know the second half of the season is almost upon us, and we have to get our act together," said Rasheed Wallace, who had nine points and eight
rebounds. "So far, so good."
New York's Jamal Crawford had 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Stephon Marbury didn't score until early in the second quarter and finished with just 10
points, half his average.
The Knicks, whose previous low this season was 73 points in a loss to Boston on Nov. 6, made just 36.1 percent of their shots.
"This team is getting back to its defensive principle by making it hard for a team to score," Heard said of the Pistons.
New York's Penny Hardaway sat out because of a sprained right ankle, one night after returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for more
than three weeks.
The Knicks lost another small forward during the game, when Trevor Ariza sprained his left ankle late in the third quarter after landing on Ronald
Less than a minute earlier, Ariza inadvertently hit Detroit's Carlos Arroyo on the nose and broke it. Arroyo will have surgery Monday and is expected
to wear a protective mask when he returns. He is doubtful for Detroit's game Tuesday at Washington.
Even an official was hurt in the game, which was sloppy from start to finish.
Official Michael Smith left with a possible neck injury and was taken to a hospital for X-rays. His neck snapped back when he was hit in the face with
a basketball in the second quarter.
The Pistons turned the game into a rout in the third quarter. They started the fourth with a 66-48 lead after leading by just four at halftime.
[Edited on 1/30/2005 by Gibbs Baby!!!]