The Detroit Pistons Face The New York Knicks

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The Detroit Pistons Face The New York Knicks

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The Detroit Pistons Face The New York Knicks

The New York Knicks may be on a fast-track to the NBA play-offs this season but they will first take a diversion through London to face the Detroit Pistons at the O2 Arena on Thursday.

This will be the third time in three years that the NBA have staged a regular-season game in Britain, as the Toronto Raptors and the New Jersey Nets played a pair of sold-out contests at the same venue in March 2011.

The Knicks go into the game against the three-time NBA champions as the Atlantic Division leaders with a 24-13 record.

However, they have no margin for error as the re-branded Brooklyn Nets, also based in New York, are enjoying a successful first season and currently sit in second place in the division.

The game on Thursday will mark the seventh time since 2007 that the O2 has played host to an NBA match, including four pre-season games. 

Knicks coach Mike Woodson has expressed the importance of the NBA continuing to stage games outside of the USA and denies the  trip to the UK will be a distraction.

"If I thought that, then when the commissioner called and gave us this opportunity to come over and play, I would never have agreed to that," Woodson said.

"I think as an organisation, to be able to go outside your country and expand your sport, to me it helps everybody. We have to travel a little bit further but this is an important game on our schedule."

Knicks pair Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler will return to the O2 for the game against the Pistons for the first time since helping the United States win Olympic gold last summer.

During his last trip to London, Anthony broke the United States' single-game scoring record, claiming 37 points during their record-book 156-73 rout of Nigeria.

He has continued that form in the NBA this season and is ranked as the second highest scorer behind Kobe Bryant.

The Pistons, meanwhile, are in rebuilding mode since losing the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals to the Boston Celtics.

There has been a growing trend in recent years for major American sporting fixtures to take place in London with the NFL set to have two of their regular-season games held at Wembley Stadium in 2013.

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