NEW YORK — Bill Walker was one of four Knicks with 20-plus points, scoring a career-high 22 in his first career start, and New York handed the Detroit Pistons their fifth straight loss with a 128-104 victory Wednesday night.
Al Harrington scored 26 for the Knicks, who won for just the second time in 12 games and clinched the season series for the first time since the 2000-01 season. Humiliated while trailing by as much as 49 points in a loss at Cleveland on Monday, New York was the team having fun this time, enjoying a rare rout after some dunks and 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter.
David Lee had 21 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists, and Tracy McGrady finished with 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as the Knicks shot 55 percent from the field.
Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey each scored 16 points for the Pistons.
With Wilson Chandler (personal reasons) out again, the Knicks put the newly acquired Walker into the lineup for some much-needed size and athleticism. Harrington also started, with McGrady moving to point guard and Sergio Rodriguez coming off the bench.
The result was a comfortable lead for most of the game. The Pistons got within nine points early in the fourth, but the Knicks ran off nine straight points, highlighed by Walker's three-point play, to blow it open at 109-91. Harrington hit a couple of 3s later in the period, and Walker capped it off with a windmill dunk with 53 seconds to go.
And the defense was better after the Knicks had surrendered 122 points per game while dropping its last two.
Despite the Knicks' struggles, coach Mike D'Antoni continues to insist the Knicks were right to avoid making any minor upgrades last summer and instead protect the loads of salary cap space they have in hopes of making a big splash in July.
The Pistons are the example the Knicks can't afford to follow. Detroit used the money it freed up in last season's franchise-altering, Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson deal to sign Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, good players who aren't even starters.
"I don't want to point them out, but we don't want to get stuck in mediocrity and we could have done that," D'Antoni said before the game. "We could've put a band-aid on some holes and be more competitive and right now that seems like a good idea, even to me, because we have to go through this. But this summer would not have been a good idea."
They did get McGrady and Walker in separate deals at the trade deadline, and both played a big role Wednesday.
McGrady made a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to make it a 12-point game late in the first, and the Knicks took a 33-23 lead to the second.
Detroit tied it at 39 on Richard Hamilton's 3-pointer, but Harrington answered with a 3 on the other end to trigger a 20-4 burst that gave the Knicks a 59-43 advantage on Walker's dunk with 4 minutes left in the half. They were ahead 67-55 at the break.
The Knicks had been overwhelmed on the boards in recent games, but the Pistons were as small as they were. They were without starting center and top rebounder Ben Wallace, who missed a game for the first time this season after injuring his right knee in Tuesday's loss to Boston, and were outrebounded 44-41.
Wallace's injury left Stuckey as the only Detroit player to appear in all 61 games this season. … The Knicks wore "Nueva York" jerseys and will do so again Saturday against New Jersey as part of the Noche Latina "Latin Night" program that nine NBA teams are participating in this month.