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Nate's 27 leads Knicks

Knicks 99, Pistons 91

If the Knicks want to take that next step and at least secure the eighth seed, they need to win games like this against a Detroit Pistons team that came into the contest only 1 ½ games behind New York. The Knicks entered the game only three games behind the eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls, so yesterday’s 99-91 matinee win was important.

Led by Nate Robinson’s 27 points, the Knicks held off a frisky Pistons team that is one-part rebuilding and one-part still in the playoff hunt.

The game was a series of runs, as the Pistons used a 12-0 run in the middle of the third quarter to erase a 14-point halftime deficit and turned it into a two-point lead at the end of three quarters. The Knicks came right back and had a 20-6 fourth-quarter run of its own to take back control of the game. Robinson and Gallo led the way in the final stanza as they each scored eight points. Wilson Chandler and Harrington also were key contributors, each scoring 17 points, while David Lee added a game-high 15 rebounds.

Three things we saw:

1. The rare early start seemed to have only affected the Knicks, as they missed their first six shots from the field, including their first free throw. The Pistons raced out to a 9-1 lead to start, led by Rodney Stuckey’s six points. New York didn’t seem to get its legs back until the 7:00 mark when Gallinari nailed a three and Wilson Chandler converted the conventional three-point play to tie the score. Chandler finally woke up and erupted for 11 first-quarter points, on five-of-six shooting.

2. Since Al Harrington was relegated to sixth man and Nate Robinson was expedited from exile, the Knicks’ bench has really been solidified. Both men came into the game with about three minutes remaining in the first quarter and immediately paid dividends, as Robinson tallied 15 points and Harrington added nine in the first half. Robinson really sparked the squad as he dropped 13 points -- including three threes -- and dished out three assists without a turnover. And he really ignited the crowd when he caught a lob from Chris Duhon to push the lead to 12 points, with 54 seconds remaining in the first half. When he plays within himself, Robinson is a valuable asset to this team and makes the already uptempo offense even more of a controlled frenzy.

3. Leave it up to the Knicks to do things the hard way. They managed to turn a 14-point halftime lead into a two-point deficit at the end of three quarters, as the Pistons stormed back into the game with a 21-6 run. The Knicks needed every bit of Gallo and Robinson’s fourth-quarter heroics to put away Detroit, as the duo combined for 16 points in the fourth. David Lee put the game out of reach with a conventional three-point play, with 52 seconds remaining, to help New York eke out the win.