AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The Palace could have been David Lee's home arena. It could be the Pistons who are talking about his having an All Star-caliber year, instead of the Knicks.
It was hard to think that that wasn't in the back of Lee's mind last night as he scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Knicks to a 104-87 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Lee was a free agent this past season, and the Pistons were one of the few teams out there that had enough money to sign him. Lee said he never got a call from Detroit.
"They wanted a big [man] who could shoot threes," said Lee, who attempted (and missed) a rare three-pointer for the Knicks in the final minute of the game.
It was a big win for the Knicks as they might be competing with the Pistons for the final playoff spot in the East at the end of the season.
The two teams entered the game tied for 10th place in the East with identical 11-19 records. They do, however, seem to be headed in different directions. With the win, the Knicks (12-19) are 9-5 in the month of December.
Frustration has been running high for Pistons fans because Detroit was a big spender in the offseason, acquiring Gordon and Villanueva and was expected to field a competitive team.
Instead, a series of injuries have hobbled the team since the first game of the season. Last night marked just the second game since their opener that the Pistons have had a healthy roster as starters Richard Hamilton, Gordon and Tayshaun Prince all rejoined the team.
The Pistons definitely looked like they hadn't played together in awhile at the start of the game. Jared Jeffries helped keep the Pistons off kilter by blocking three shots in the first seven minutes and Lee scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Knicks built a double-digit lead.
The Pistons (11-20) got their act together briefly in the second quarter, long enough to make a 12-2 run and make it a two-point game at 35-33.
The Knicks slowly stretched their lead back to double digits and never led by less than nine after the middle of the third quarter.
The Knicks, who made 51.3 percent of their shots, also got a big game from Wilson Chandler, who had 23 points and nine rebounds. The Pistons were led by Gordon's 17 points.
It was Lee, however, who stole the show by making 13 of his 19 shots.
"He's really getting a lot of confidence in his outside shot," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "You can see he's not hesitating. If they lay off him, he knocks them down. They get up on him, and he drives around them. Makes it a pretty simple game."