NEW YORK -- Something changed for the Knicks Tuesday night. The ball moved. The players moved. The Knicks got good, open shots and made them. Sixty percent of them, to be exact.
What changed? Carmelo Anthony returned from a two-game absence to rest his ankle and wrist, and found his shooting stroke -- and his passing instincts.
What else? The Knicks were playing the Pistons.
The Knicks ended a three-game losing streak and a stretch in which they'd lost nine of 10 with an ego-boosting, problem-solving 113-86 victory over the Pistons.
"I got my pop back and I felt pretty good for the most part," Anthony said.
"We know the system works," said Amar'e Stoudemire, who had 15 points. "We just need to keep playing the way we did tonight and we will be fine."
But is it over? Are the problems gone? Hardly. New York begins a stretch of three games in three nights Thursday night at home against the Bulls, then goes to Boston and back home to face New Jersey. Even after a 25-point performance in which he made 9 of 14 shots from the field and also dished out six assists, Anthony didn't want to think about the upcoming back-to-back-to-back.
"It's the schedule," he said at his locker afterward. "We have to play it. It is what it is. ... I'm not sure, so we'll see. Right now sitting here talking to you guys, I feel fine. Tomorrow may be a different story."
With two days off since their most recent loss in Houston, the Knicks got to load up on two rare commodities in this lockout-compressed sprint of a regular season: rest and practice.
"That really helped us," Tyson Chandler said.
So did the Pistons, who allowed their opponent to shoot more than 50 percent from the field for the fourth time during their current six-game losing streak. The Knicks shot 42-for-70 including 9-for-18 from 3-point range. The Pistons (4-19) have allowed their opponents to shoot 52 percent on 3-pointers (50-97) during the losing streak.
"It's embarrassing for all of us when teams can shoot what they've been shooting over the past five or six games," coach Lawrence Frank said.
Sometimes, one team's embarrassment is another team's elixir.