Carmelo Anthony (r.) scores 25 points but spends most of his time riding officials as Knicks lose to Pistons in Detroit without services of starting point guard Raymond Felton.
AUBURN HILLS – Carmelo Anthony’s frustrations only mounted further on Tuesday night, but his complaints were far more about the officiating this time than a lack of effort from his teammates.
Anthony and Mike Woodson are running out of answers as the spiraling Knicks, playing without starting point guard Raymond Felton, fell to 3-7 on the season with a 92-86 loss to the Pistons at the Palace.
Anthony committed seven turnovers and endured yet another rough shooting night, scoring 25 points on 8-for-20 from the field, while jawing throughout with the three-man refereeing crew.
Anthony also received a technical foul for complaining to the officials following one non-call on the offensive end as the Pistons (4-6) turned a halftime tie into an eight-point lead midway through the third quarter. Reserve guard Rodney Stuckey then erupted for 12 straight Detroit points bridging the final two periods – he finished with 21 – to extend the Knicks’ hole to 78-63 with 9:22 remaining.
Mike Woodson tries to settle his team down, but things are spiraling downward fast.
Anthony managed 11 points in the final session but the Knicks never got closer than four points the rest of the way.
Amar’e Stoudemire, who totaled six points and five rebounds in a season-high 15 minutes off the bench, also drew a technical foul for arguing with the refs early in the fourth quarter.
Pablo Prigioni had eight points, five assists and zero turnovers in 23 minutes in Felton’s absence, while J.R. Smith added 18 points for the Knicks, who return home to face 9-1 Indiana on Wednesday night at the Garden before embarking on a four-game road trip.
Already without All-Star center Tyson Chandler, the Knicks were down another starter with Felton sidelined after acknowledging that he’d played the previous three games with a pinched nerve in his left hip initially suffered in the Knicks’ blowout loss to San Antonio on Nov. 10.
Felton, who claimed the hamstring injury he suffered during training camp is “fine,” is averaging just 11.1 points on 37.6 shooting while regularly having difficulty defending opposing point guards during the first nine games.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Josh Smith scores 19 points for Detroit while sending the Knicks to their fourth loss in five games.
“It’s been very tough, but me, I’m not the type of guy who complains,” Felton said after taking part in the team’s morning shoot-around at The Palace. “I’m still trying to come out and play through whatever, trying to do whatever I can to help this team, but at the same time I don’t want to hinder the team either.”
Asked if he has been experiencing tightness or pain in the hip, Felton added: “No, it’s pain. And that’s also hindering me from doing certain movements and being explosive off the dribble and moving laterally to stay in front of my man at times. Like I said, if I’m not able to do it, I really gotta consider letting Beno (Udrih) and letting Pablo take over that job. Those guys are great point guards, so I just gotta try to let this thing rest up if I can.”
Woodson started the little-used Udrih, who played 38 minutes in four previous appearances this season, in Felton’s absence, he said, to maintain some continuity with Prigioni with the second unit. Woodson also decided to start Kenyon Martin (season-high 28 minutes) up front to combat Detroit’s sizable frontline, marking the Knicks’ fifth different starting lineup already through 10 games. Iman Shumpert (11 points) shifted to shooting guard, and Smith, the NBA’s reigning Sixth Man Award winner, went back to the bench after shooting just 25 percent (11-for-44) from the field in three starts.
“It’s just been a lot of what-ifs, Woodson said before the game. “That’s what I’ve been searching for, a solid rotation, so guys get comfortable with one another from a chemistry standpoint. We just gotta keep grinding and pushing in that area. That’s my job to figure it out.”
The Knicks attacked the rim early and hit their first six shots, but neither team led by more than six in the first half. Andrea Bargnani scored 11 of his 13 points in the first two quarters, all on drives, including one three-point conversion.
Stoudemire even had two consecutive emphatic dunks in the second quarter off pick-and-roll feeds from Prigioni, but the half ended in a 43-43 tie.