The good news is that the Detroit Pistons looked like a professional basketball team Wednesday night in Madison Square Garden. That was a big step up from an absolutely abysmal performance against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough as New York cranked up the defensive pressure in the second half and the Pistons couldn’t deal with it. After scoring 56 points and playing with pace and offensive flow in the first half, the Pistons were limited to 36 points until 1:16 was left in the game and the Knicks found themselves up 14.
Detroit scored eight garbage-time points, but it was clear who the better team was in MSG. The Knicks surge was powered by the irrepressible Julius Randle who scored 29 points to go with 11 rebounds and 5 assists.
Detroit was led by Jerami Grant with 18 points.
Early on things looked crisp as the ball was moving and shots were doing down for the Pistons. Isaiah Stewart got involved early on some clever entry passes from teammates, Saben Lee hit four first-half 3-pointers and even Jamorko Pickett stuffed the stat sheet in a second-quarter burst with 7 points and 5 rebounds.
But then the Knicks turned up the defensive pressure behind a pesky Randle, and savvy of veteran Taj Gibson and especially Alec Burks who hounded every guard he saw on the floor.
Detroit didn’t have many answers, and whereas the veterans off the bench have been able to calm some troubled waters, it was a surprisingly quiet night for the Candian trio of Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk and Trey Lyles.
Olynyk was mostly a non-factor as he had just 10 points on nine shots and zero assists to three turnovers. Lyles, meanwhile, wasn’t hitting his deep ball (the team shot just 29% on 37 attempts), and made some poor decisions with the ball in his hands.
The worst of it was Joseph, however, who got bullied all night and it completely took him out of his game. Joseph had just 4 points and 3 assists. On a night where the team was without Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey, Joseph needed to step up and he just couldn’t do it.
Hamidou Diallo continues to struggle finding his place in this offense (6 points and 5 rebounds), and while Frank Jackson got the start, he tried to do too much in his 13 shots and took some contested mid-range jumpers and floaters in the paint.
It’s not the result the team was looking for, but at least it was a step in the right direction as it heads into a preseason finale against the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. It’s unclear by then who is going to be able to suit up, but hopefully the Pistons will be able to replenish their ranks.