Carmelo Anthony was inactive with a sore knee and the Knicks were just 3-4 without him. But Greg Monroe did not dress either because of an ankle injury, so Detroit was without his 16 points and nine boards per game.
New York threw the ball all over the court in the early going, committing 11 turnovers in the first quarter to Detroit's two. But the Knicks still led 24-19 at the first buzzer, in large part due to a vast superiority in shooting percentage (61.5 to 36.4) and rebounding (15 to five).
New York had been committing the fewest turnovers per game in the NBA (11.9), but they surpassed that total early in the second quarter and finished the game with 20 turnovers. Detroit was ranked 24th in opponent's turnovers.
After stretching the lead to as many as 15 points in the second quarter, New York led by just six at the half. They ground to a halt in the third quarter, getting outscored 18-4 to start the second half.
But as Brandon Knight's hot-and-cold shooting warmed up, Raymond Felton counteracted him with a dozen points in the third quarter alone. Felton finished with a team-high 26 points.
J.R. Smith finally knocked down some shots in the fourth quarter, and the defense clamped down. New York allowed Detroit just 12 points in the final frame as they cruised to victory.
Jose Calderon added his name to the list of point guards who have torched the Knicks so far this season, scoring 10 points and tallying 16 assists. All Pistons starters scored in double-digits.
New York completed the sweep of the season series; this was Detroit's only game on their home court versus the Knicks since they were the home team for the London contest.
With the Pacers losing to the Boston Celtics, the Knicks moved back into second with their win.
The Pistons had been just 23-39, but to accentuate the positive, they were in 11th place.
Now, let's mail out the report cards!
Raymond Felton, PG: B+
Wednesday night, Raymond Felton was like the little girl with the curl. When he was good, he was very good indeed, but when he was bad, he was horrid.
Felton scored 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, providing a crucial boost after the Knicks stagnated in the third quarter.
Felton also committed seven turnovers through three quarters, which is completely unacceptable. We'll chalk this up to a freak accident since he knocked down his shots.
Iman Shumpert, SG: B-
Shumpert scored nine of the Knicks' first dozen points in the game, knocking down three consecutive three-pointers. He also grabbed six rebounds in the first half.
While he failed to score after his early outburst, Shump's defense continues to approach his rookie-sensation standard.
Still, Shumpert had the worst rating of any Knicks player at minus-10.
James White, SF: C-
James "Flight" White again failed to take flight. He did not attempt a shot despite starting, though he did dish three assists in less than eight minutes.
Like his fellow starter Kurt Thomas, White served merely as a placeholder. White was substituted for J.R. Smith yet again, and Thomas yielded even quicker to Amar'e Stoudemire.
Kurt Thomas, PF: C-
To replace the voluminous scoring of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks turned to the oldest player in the NBA, Kurt Thomas.
Thomas played just three-and-a-half minutes and missed his sole field-goal attempt. He managed a pair of rebounds and a pair of turnovers in his brief appearance.
Amar'e Stoudemire played over 30 minutes off the bench.
Tyson Chandler, C: B-
Chandler managed just two points in 30 minutes, but he was still a force on the interior. He snagged 11 rebounds and swatted two shots.
Chandler was facing an undersized starting frontcourt in Jonas Jerebko and Jason Maxiell, but both ended up scoring in double-digits. He may have tweaked his ankle going for a loose ball in the third quarter, but he remained in the game.
It was an erratic defensive showing for the Knicks, but Chandler was rarely at fault thanks to late-help defense.
J.R. Smith, SG: B
Smith looked like he was building a house for most of this game. He persisted in throwing up bricks off the back iron, in part due to some questionable shot selection.
But J.R. found his rhythm when it mattered. He knocked down a trio of three-pointers to open the fourth quarter as the Knicks pulled out to a decisive advantage.
Smith's 20 points were the pivotal boost, even though he finished 7-of-22 from the field.
He also had five assists, four rebounds and four steals.
Rest of Bench: A-
This grade is almost solely down to Amar'e Stoudemire.
STAT stormed out of the gate with 10 first-quarter points, and they just kept feeding him.
Stoudemire went on a relentless procession to the bucket, which resulted in copious free throws as well. He scored 17 points in his first 11 minutes on the court.
Amar'e finished with 22 on 8-of-12 shooting to go with nine rebounds.
Jason Kidd scored just six points on 2-of-7 shooting, but he contributed six dimes, five rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes off the bench. He also finished with a team-high plus-24 rating.
Steve Novak couldn't find his shot, missing all five attempts. Pablo Prigioni played 17 minutes and dished three assists.
Marcus Camby made a brief five-minute appearance, grabbing a rebound and hitting two free throws. Chris Copeland and Kenyon Martin dressed but did not play.
The Knicks notched a big victory with this uneven performance. They have a brutal seven-game stretch up next, with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz at home, followed by a five-game West Coast road trip.