Larry Brown provided the only intrigue in an otherwise boring game.
Before and after Detroit defeated New York, 91-61, Saturday night at Auburn Hills, Mich., Brown passed on opportunities to shoot down rumors about his possibly leaving the Pistons after the season to coach the Knicks.
The Hall of Fame coach, who has three-plus years left on his contract, didn’t meet with the media before the game for the first time in his 1 1/2 seasons with the Pistons.
Then Brown, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., passed on the postgame news conference, sending assistant coach Gar Heard.
“I’ve got the flu,” Brown said to an Associated Press reporter on a cell phone from his office. “Sorry, that’s all I have to say.”
Knick Coach Herb Williams, who replaced Lenny Wilkens last week, insisted the Brown-to-New York speculation doesn’t bother him.
“I don’t pay any attention to it,” Williams said.
The Knicks were held to their lowest point total of the season -- avoiding their franchise record by three -- as they lost for the 12th time in 14 games.
Richard Hamilton scored 18 points while Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess each scored 16 points for the Pistons, who moved into a first-place tie with Cleveland in the Central Division with their third consecutive victory.
“We know the second half of the season is almost upon us, and we have to get our act together,” said Rasheed Wallace, who had nine points and eight rebounds. “So far, so good.”
The Knicks, whose previous low was 73 points in a loss to Boston on Nov. 6, made only 36.1% of their shots.
New York’s Penny Hardaway sat out because of a sprained right ankle, one night after returning from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for more than three weeks.
The Knicks lost another small forward during the game when Trevor Ariza sprained his left ankle late in the third quarter after landing on Ronald Dupree’s foot.
Less than a minute earlier, Ariza inadvertently hit Detroit’s Carlos Arroyo on the nose and broke it. Arroyo will have surgery Monday and is expected to wear a protective mask when he returns. He is doubtful for Detroit’s game Tuesday at Washington.
Even an official was hurt in the game, which was sloppy from start to finish.
Official Michael Smith left with a possible neck injury and was taken to a hospital for X-rays. His neck snapped back when he was hit in the face with a basketball in the second quarter.
Memphis 84, Atlanta 83 -- Jason Williams scored 23 points and had eight assists, Mike Miller added 21 points and the Grizzlies defeated the travel-weary Hawks at Memphis, Tenn.
Because of icy conditions in Atlanta, the Hawks were unable to fly to Memphis until Saturday afternoon. The team arrived 90 minutes before tipoff.
Denver 95, Indiana 88 -- Kenyon Martin scored 25 points and the Nuggets won their second in a row under Coach George Karl.
It was the fourth loss in a row for the Pacers and their first at home against the Nuggets in 10 seasons.
New Jersey 99, Utah 82 -- Vince Carter made his first five shots and scored 30 points at Salt Lake City as the Nets won their third in a row.
Philadelphia 93, Dallas 89 -- John Salmons scored a season-high 19 points and Kyle Korver had 16 at Dallas as the 76ers won without Allen Iverson, who missed his third consecutive game because of to a strained left rotator cuff.
Boston 101, Chicago 97 -- Ricky Davis scored eight fourth-quarter points to spark a late rally and Gary Payton made the go-ahead three-point basket for the Celtics, who snapped the Bulls’ five-game winning streak.
San Antonio 93, New Orleans 83 -- Tony Parker scored 23 points and had 10 assists at San Antonio as the Spurs improved to 23-1 at home.
Orlando 103, Washington 97 -- Steve Francis scored 32 points at Washington as the Magic completed a sweep of back-to-back games between the teams chasing Miami in the Southeast Division.