Carmelo Anthony scored 13 of his 34 points in the third quarter, then made the clinching free throws with 2.9 seconds left as the Knicks handed the Detroit Pistons a season-high fifth straight loss with an 89-85 victory on Tuesday night.
Raymond Felton finished with 12 points and six assists in his return from injury for the Knicks, who came home from a 2-1 Texas swing and held on after blowing most of the 17-point lead they built while outscoring the Pistons 32-17 in the third quarter.
Andrea Bargnani had 13 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Knicks overcome the absence of an ill Tyson Chandler to beat the Pistons at Madison Square Garden for the eighth straight time.
Josh Smith had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Detroit, while Andre Drummond finished with 12 points and 17 boards.
The Pistons were 3 of 19 on 3-pointers and badly missed reserve guard Rodney Stuckey, who missed his third straight game with a sore shoulder, because starters Brandon Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shot a combined 3 for 18.
Anthony finally brought some offense to an ugly game in the third. He drilled three straight 3-pointers, the first two from nearly the same spot near the Pistons' bench, to make it 58-49. Felton followed with a jumper before Anthony dunked to cap a 15-0 spurt and give the Knicks a 62-49 advantage.
Jennings ended the run with Detroit's first 3-pointer of the game, but Amare Stoudemire and Anthony had baskets before Iman Shumpert converted a three-point play when Greg Monroe made a feeble attempt to foul him, as the lead ballooned to 69-52.
The Pistons had six baskets and seven turnovers in the period, which ended with the Knicks leading 73-58.
Detroit chipped away early in the fourth, then put together an 11-3 run to cut it to 86-85 on Charlie Villanueva's free throw with 46 seconds left. The Pistons got a chance for the lead after Anthony was charged with an offensive foul, but Smith was woefully short on a jumper. Felton was fouled and missed the second free throw, but the Knicks came up with the rebound and Anthony made both free throws to put it away.
Felton played for just the second time in 14 games, having strained his right groin on Dec. 23 in his return from a six-game absence with a strained left hamstring. He was perhaps fatigued down the stretch, making a pair of turnovers that nearly cost the Knicks.
The game started off clean enough, with the Knicks jumping to a 16-8 lead in the first 5 ½ minutes before the messiness ensued. New York shot just 33 percent from the field in the first half and was only 4 of 9 from the free throw line, yet was able to manage a 41-all tie. The Pistons' backcourt did its part to help the Knicks, with Jennings and Caldwell-Pope combining to go 0 for 8 and Chauncey Billups coming off the bench to miss all three of his attempts. The Pistons were 0 of 8 from 3-point range in the half.