Pistons pay a visit to listless Knicks

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(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the Eastern Conference's worst teams are headed in different directions and will face off Friday night when the Detroit Pistons visit Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Knicks.

The Pistons have won three straight since the shocking release of Josh Smith. They started the run with a home win over the Indiana Pacers and are 2-0 on a current road trip, which ends Friday.

Detroit destroyed LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers by 23, then made it three in a row with a 109-86 drubbing of the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night at Amway Center.

All tallied, since the Smith release, the Pistons are averaging 110.3 ppg and holding teams to an average of 91.6 ppg.

Against the Magic, Jodie Meeks scored 20 of his 34 points in the second quarter and made a career-high nine 3-pointers to lead the Pistons. The team converted 14 attempts from long range.

Andre Drummond contributed 17 points and 22 rebounds, and D.J. Augustin added 11 points and 10 assists off the bench. No other Detroit player scored in double figures, but nine other Pistons made at least one field goal.

"Our bench turned it around in the second quarter and then I thought our starters did a better job in the third," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said.

The Knicks are trending in the other direction. They've lost nine in a row, which is the longest current funk in the Eastern Conference and one shy of Minnesota's current slide of 10 games.

The Knicks went 0-3 on a recent west coast trip and failed to score 80 points in the last two.

On Wednesday, New York fell to the Los Angeles Clippers, 99-78.

Carmelo Anthony ended with 19 points for the Knicks.

Andrea Bargnani had nine points on 4-for-11 shooting in his long-awaited season debut after missing 73 games dating back to Jan. 22 of last season with elbow, hamstring and calf injuries.

"I was very happy to be on court after a year, to be able to wear the jersey again," Bargnani told the New York Post. "Rust is definitely there but it don't take very long."

The Knicks kept it close in the early stages of the second quarter, but the Clippers pulled away late for a 50-40 edge at the half.

Los Angeles put the game out of reach with a 13-0 run to start the second half. The Clippers outscored New York by a 24-18 margin in the third stanza to extend their lead to 74-58.

The Pistons beat the Knicks by three in Motown on Nov. 5 and have won two straight and three of the last four in this series. The Knicks have taken eight straight at home against the Pistons, who haven't won in New York City since Apr. 8, 2009.