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Knicks fight off Pistons rally to end four game skid at home

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Al Bello/Getty Images

The New York Knicks continue to look like a different team since it became 2014 than the one that stunk it up for the final two months of 2013.

New York has now won three of it's last four games overall as they were able to hold off a fourth quarter rally from the Detriot Pistons. The Knicks had a 15 point lead going into the 4th, but the Pistons rallied and got within 1 point with under a minute to go. However, Carmelo Anthony had a huge offensive rebound off a missed free throw with the Knicks up by two. He was fouled after his rebound and made the two clinching free throws for a 89-85 victory. The victory ends a four game losing streak at home for New York and only their second two-game winning streak of the season.

"We're building, we're building something here," said Anthony. "We're getting our confidence back, we're getting or aura back, our swagger back and that's something we've been missing this season."

Anthony scored 13 of his game high 34 points in the pivotal third quarter that saw New York turn a 41-41 game at halftime to a 73-58 lead after three quarters. With the game tied at 49 midway through the third quarter, Anthony knocked down three consecutive shots from beyond the arc that gave the team a 58-49 lead. They would never relinquish lead after that.

"Coming out of halftime, we said we just need one run to just separate ourselves," Anthony said

While the freezing weather outside may have effected the cold shooting from New York, it did not affect Anthony at all as he made 13 of 24 from the field, The rest of the team was a combined 20-57 from the field as the team needed every one of those shots by their superstar.

With Tyson Chandler sitting out because of an upper respiratory infection, Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin stepped up big time in his absence. Bargnani had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Martin had a terrific all around game. The veteran power scored only six points but filled up the box score with seven rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. Martin's aggressive defensive play clearly gives the team some much needed swagger on that side of the court.

“We’re starting to have a little bit more fun out there, trusting each other a lot more than we have,” Anthony said. “Just believing in one another, so when it comes down to situations in games, guys feel like we’re all on the same page, we’re all a part of what’s going on and that’s just been the case these last couple of games.”

Raymond Felton had 12 points and six assists as he returned back to the starting lineup from an injured groin that forced him to miss the last six games. He was forced to play most of the second half as Beno Udrih sat out the entire second half because of leg trouble. Felton nearly lost it for New York at the end as he had two critical turnovers in the final three minutes that led to two baskets.

“Sometimes, it becomes a little contagious,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said. “You win a few close games, you remember how you win them. I’ve always said, there’s a fine line when there’s close games between winning and losing. You’ve gotta pretty much do all the right things to secure a win and I thought we did that coming down the stretch.

The team is playing it's best basketball of the season, and just in time for mighty Miami Heat. The Heat and New York will play each other for the first time this season on Thursday night at the Garden. Anthony didn't even have a clue that Lebron James and friends was next on the schedule.

"That's who we play next?," Anthony said. I honestly did not know,” “We’ve gotta face them someway, somehow, one day or another. When do we play? Thursday? We gotta face them. It is what it is, we can’t from them. I think we’re getting better each day. They’re playing well, we’ve gotta lace our sneakers up like they do come Thursday.”

New York went 3-1 against the Heat last season. The Knicks expect to have Chandler back for Thursday night's showdown.