Mitchell Robinson had a season-best effort on Tuesday with the Knicks downing the Pistons at home despite missing seven players, six of whom remain in COVID-19 protocols.
The New York Knicks (14-17) defeated the Detroit Pistons (5-25) by a final score of 105-91 at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. Mitchell Robinson, who has been working to come back after having some conditioning issues to start the season, had the best performance of the evening as the Knicks held down home court against the worst team in the league.
The Knicks are still without six key players due to health and safety protocols. Derrick Rose was also ruled out for tonight’s game with an ankle injury. He missed New York’s last game at Boston due to the same injury.
Kemba Walker, who reentered the rotation as a starter last game because of the Knicks’ shorthanded lineup, was tapped to start once again after putting up an impressive 29 points in a loss to the Celtics. New York also signed three additional hardship exception players this week, Matt Mooney, Damyean Dotson, and Tyler Hall. Dotson was a member of the Knicks for three seasons.
In the first quarter, New York’s offense was lacking rhythm. Despite some good ball movement, shots were simply not falling for the Knicks. Kemba Walker, who was coming off of an impressive start at Boston, looked poised once again tonight in the first few minutes of play. Their team defense was solid as well, and eventually, the Knicks found their shooting stroke to end the period in the lead over the Pistons.
Heading into the second quarter, New York had to keep up the ball movement and defense that left them successful to end the first quarter. They continued to force turnovers on Detroit, and both Walker and Alec Burks continued being great floor generals for the Knicks. They helped to get Mitchell Robinson involved off the bench and gave Julius Randle more space to create in the paint as a result. Burks ended the second with eight points and seven rebounds, and Walker dished out three assists. Randle was New York’s highest scorer with 12 points.
The second half started with Robinson taking the center position in place of Nerlens Noel and made an immediate impact with a huge block in the third quarter and with some powerful dunks off assists from Walker. The starters on the floor were gelling and looked dominant over the young but struggling Pistons. Robinson especially brought the energy New York has desperately needed to truly shut teams out, especially at home. Evan Fournier kept heating up as well, reaching 19 points by the end of the third quarter. However, New York allowed Detroit back into the game late in the period and was only up nine after being up by as much as 22.
In the fourth quarter, Detroit came out with purpose to start the period and pulled within five points of New York despite what had been up to this point a lopsided performance in favor of the Knicks. But, once Mitchell Robinson came back into the game, the Motor City club was shut down. Robinson finished up the game with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks for the fourth-year big man’s best game of the season. His intimidating presence along with the starting unit finally working together helped to seal the win for New York.
Mitch again!! pic.twitter.com/ufVkYBteRE
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 22, 2021
Evan Fournier had his third straight impressive game for the Knicks, scoring 22 points. Randle recorded a double-double, scoring 21 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Randle had six turnovers, though, as that issue continues to persist for him and other Knicks players. Walker once again made an impact in his second start for the Knicks since his benching by head coach Tom Thibodeau. He scored 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and had five assists.
Alec Burks was fairly silent on offense for the Knicks tonight, but he made an impact defensively and as a facilitator. He had eight points and six assists along with seven rebounds. Nerlens Noel was lackluster in comparison to the rest of the starting cast, scoring two points, securing three rebounds, and recording two blocks. Wayne Selden saw limited minutes again tonight and scored five off the bench—his first points in the NBA in three seasons. Taj Gibson was helpful behind Noel and Robinson, scoring nine points and collecting five rebounds. Damyean Dotson also saw some time on the court tonight, but only recorded one rebound for New York.
The Knicks’ next opponent will be the Washington Wizards at home once again. The Wizards are seventh in the standings in the Eastern Conference and have been coming back down to earth after having one of the hottest starts to the season in the NBA. New York will be vying for their second straight win at home while hoping to have at least Obi Toppin back from health and safety protocols.