Could the Pistons really beat the New York Knicks without starting center Greg Monroe and coach Lawrence Frank?

Nah.

The Pistons teased the Palace crowd Wednesday night when they took a 10-point lead with 2:44 left in the third quarter on a Brandon Knight three-pointer.

But it was all downhill from there as the Knicks -- minus star Carmelo Anthony -- claimed an 87-77 victory.

The Pistons also were without Charlie Villanueva, but for a moment it didn't seem to matter.

Then Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith took over, and the Knicks sent the Pistons to their sixth loss in seven games.

Still, it was a far cry from the effort Sunday night when the listless Pistons were handed a 39-point loss at San Antonio.

"I told our guys after the game I have nothing negative to say," said assistant coach Brian Hill, who filled in for Frank, who was away tending to a personal matter. "I thought we played with some difficult lineups out there tonight.

"I thought they gave us every ounce of energy they could possibly give us. We made some shots and were able to get a 10-point lead in the third quarter there."