The skeleton crew of the current Pistons squad was no match at the Garden for a defensive-focused Knicks team ahead of their road trip.

The New York Knicks defeated the Detroit Pistons (20-45) by a final score of 96-84. For the Pistons, Christian Wood finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Elfrid Payton finished with 16 points, five rebounds, and six assists for the Knicks. With the win, the Knicks snap a two-game losing streak and move to 20-44 on the season. 

This game was a snoozefest, to be honest. It felt like a game between two teams ready for the season to end. With Andre Drummond now a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Markieff Morris and Reggie Jackson off to Los Angeles teams, and Derrick Rose injured, Detroit felt like a skeleton crew of players and it showed on offense. 

Unfortunately, the Knicks weren’t that much better. The shooting was nonexistent from both teams in the first half, and even with Payton running the show, the offense was mucked up by a lack of spacing and shooting. It’s been a bit of a theme all season, but the lackluster spacing was on display in this game.

As such, this game was about defense and who could limit the opponent to the least amount of scoring chances; in this, New York was the victor. The Knicks held Detroit to 36.2% shooting and an even worse 28.9% from three. Whether they got into the paint or took shots on the perimeter, Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina were there, setting the tone defensively. 

By the end of the third quarter, New York found a solid rhythm on offense. Julius Randle found the lane and garnered a few free throws and easy buckets, but it was the combination of Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock opening up the floor. While the duo only combined for two made threes, both players sharing the floor created several lanes for scoring for New York’s bigs. 

It was a good win, and much needed for a team that dropped two games to playoff teams. Getting to 20 wins this year was solid, as it almost assures the Knicks won’t have back-to-back 60 loss seasons. Improvement, one would say. Anywho, let’s take a look at the notes and some random Knicks thoughts. 

Notes

  • I found it interesting that R.J. Barrett played very little in the second half of this game. Barrett finished with 12 points, three rebounds, and a a pair of assists but didn’t look to have a bad game. Offensively, there was an effort to get downhill and attack Detroit’s wings that were hit or miss. Defensively, some bad reads and got lost off the ball a few times. 
  • Mitchell Robinson finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. Detroit actively couldn’t do anything with him defensively. Whether it was blocking a few jumpshots or putting Thon Maker in the torture chamber, Robinson’s defensive performance was great. Offensively, he played within his role and did well, highlighted by an excellent dunk. 
  • The Knicks’ starting lineup combined for seven three-point attempts. 
  • I’m not a fan of Mike Miller’s rotations, especially as it seems like the Knicks are in the midst of another season where they eclipse 50 losses, but I like the lineups he uses with the young players. The second half of this game where he used both shooters (Ellington/Bullock) with Ntilikina and Robinson was solid. I would like to see more Frank minutes, though.
  • Good to see Kevin Knox again. He didn’t light the world on fire, but he played with some fire, which is what he needs to do consistently. Knox is never going to be an elite defender, but could pester some with his length, as evident with two blocks. Would like to see him get some more minutes (at the four, alongside MitchRob) as we get closer to April…please.

The Knicks go on their Southeast Division three-game road trip on Tuesday in the nation’s capital.

 

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