The Pistons beat the Knicks, 92-86, shaking off the stench of a disappointing trip out west. Rodney Stuckey scored 21 points off the bench while Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond turned in double double-doubles.
I expected this game to be a shootout. Instead, the two teams combined for 178 points, well shy of the 199 over/under predicted by Vegas. Credit the difference to Detroit's surprisingly stout defense: the Pistons came into the game allowing opponents to shoot an abysmal (and league-worst) 48.9 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from 3-point land. Tonight, the Knicks managed just 43.4 and 25 (6-24), respectively.
What stood out?
The Pistons gave a steady effort from opening tip to the final whistle -- for the most part. They did lead by as many as 15 before allowing the Knicks to get within five with a few minutes left in the game, but it wasn't necessarily the result of bad defense. The Knicks shot just 38.9 percent in the fourth quarter; the Pistons, just 33.3 percent.
Josh Smith did most of the damage in the final frame, shooting 1-for-7. His lone make was key, though; Kenyon Martin completely forgot about him, allowing Rodney Stuckey to feed him with a wide open layup at the rim.
A few of his shots were questionable, but more than a few times he simply got the ball late in the shot clock and had to do something with it. Don't hate the player, hate the -game- system. And love the rest of his stats: five rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Who stood out?
Rodney Stuckey was huge off the bench for the Pistons, scoring 21 points with five assists in 31 minutes. He looks a lot more comfortable with the ball in his hand than without, which wasn't a problem tonight considering the Pistons were without Chauncey Billups and Will Bynum and briefly lost Brandon Jennings in the first half with an upset stomach.
Despite sitting early with foul trouble, Andre Drummond finished strong to tally his fifth straight double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He also recorded three blocks. Greg Monroe had trouble finding his shot at times but still managed 16 points on just eight shots, adding 11 boards.
I love that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hasn't lost confidence in his shot, as shaky as it's been at times. He finished just 4-of-12 from the field (boo!) but 3-of-7 from 3-point land (yay!). He's developing into a reliable 3-point threat will be critical for the Pistons.
Carmelo Anthony certainly salvaged his night: he opened the game shooting 3-12 in the first half but finished 5-8 in the second. Combined with going 8-11 at the line, he finished with 25 points, seven rebounds ... and seven turnovers.
- I expected Brandon Jennings to come out gunning -- in part to show up J.R. Smith, but also because, well, that's what he does. Instead, he attempted all of three shots, making one, in nearly 27 minutes. He finished with two points, seven assists and one turnover. I'm curious if his lack of aggression was a result of not feeling well (he briefly retreated to the locker room in the first half with stomach issues), a response to criticism, or simply the flow of the game. Maybe all of the above?
- Peyton Siva made an 11-minute cameo but didn't really do anything memorable, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
- As a team, the Pistons shot 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) from long distance. I can live with that.
- This was Detroit's first win over New York since March 18, 2011, snapping a seven-game losing streak. I had no idea it had been so long.
- The Pistons improved to 4-6 on the season. It's been a frustrating ride at times, but it's still night and day compared to the slow starts of the Lawrence Frank era. Also, consider this: only four teams in the entire Eastern Conference have a winning record right now.
- The Pistons travel to Atlanta overnight to face the Hawks on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Can the Pistons manage to string together consecutive wins for the first time all year?