Aiming to keep moving up, Knicks face struggling Pistons

An afternoon game in the return from a challenging road trip occasionally develops into a trap game for playoff teams.The New York Knicks, however, responded well enough and then received some favorable results in the standings.With an eye on third place in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks play the second of four straight games against losing teams Monday night when they host the Detroit Pistons.The Knicks (42-28) clinched a second straight winning season when they pulled away in the fourth quarter of a 105-93 win over the struggling Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. That came two days after they finished off a 3-1 trip with a 13-point loss to the Denver Nuggets.New York won for the fifth time in six games following a stretch of nine losses in 13 games that coincided with numerous injuries.”I don’t know the standings. I don’t know what this win does for that, but we needed this one,” New York’s Josh Hart said. “We had a good road trip, but a tough loss in Denver with a quick turnaround. We needed this.”A day after beginning a stretch that will see them visit the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs, the Knicks pulled within a half-game of the Cleveland Cavaliers. New York also is a half-game ahead of the fifth-place Orlando Magic.New York remains shorthanded as OG Anunoby will miss his fourth straight game due to injury maintenance on his right elbow.Without Anunoby, along with Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson, against the Nets, Donte DiVincenzo and Miles McBride combined for 57 points on a 21-of-40 shooting from the field, including 10 3-pointers.DiVincenzo scored 13 points in the fourth when the Knicks pulled away by allowing Brooklyn only 16 points. New York also allowed fewer than 100 points for the sixth time in eight games since giving up 116 in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on March 5.