With Cade Cunningham getting the night off to nurse his shin injury, this game was an opportunity for Jaden Ivey to run the show. Dwane Casey opted to start Cory Joseph, although his start was very short-lived as he would pick up his 2nd foul just one minute and six seconds into the game.
As has been the case the whole season, the Pistons defense was not good, as they gave up 30 points in the first quarter even though the Knicks only shot 1-of-10 from beyond the arc. A huge culprit for the Pistons bad defensive 1st quarter was rebounding. There was one possession where the Knicks got 4 (!) offensive rebounds on one possession before scoring.
The Pistons only shot 2-of-8 from beyond the arc in the 1st quarter, which is an ongoing problem with this team. They managed to keep the game close, aided by a strong 1st quarter from Killian Hayes. He led the team with 6 points and picked up where he left off from Wednesday against Boston.
The game would get out of control early into the 2nd quarter, as the Knicks’ lead would balloon up to 10 only two and a half minutes into the 2nd quarter.
The starters tried to get the game back on track, but ultimately were not able to. The defense ultimately isn’t good enough to overcome huge deficits even if the offense is occasionally firing on all cylinders. The Knicks lead would grow to as much as 16 during the quarter.
A late run going into halftime, sparked by Alec Burks, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Killian Hayes, got the Knicks lead down to 10. The Pistons would trail 68-58 at halftime as Bogdanovic had 15, Hayes had 11, and Burks had 10. They were the only three bright spots of the first half and it looks like Burks will be a huge spark to the bench.
The Pistons were able to hang around to begin the 3rd quarter and even had the lead down to single digits for a little bit, but without getting any consistent defensive stops, they were just never able to make a game out of this one. The Knicks would get their lead up to 17 only four minutes into the 3rd quarter and they never looked back.
Whenever the Pistons finally started to get some stops on defense, they would have a careless turnover, like a travel or an errant pass. They would head into the 4th trailing 94-80, as they just couldn’t put together that run that would make the Knicks sweat. Hamidou Diallo did have a solid quarter, as he had 6 points in the quarter to lead the team.
The run that made the Knicks sweat did come at the beginning of the 4th quarter. The Pistons started the 4th on a 9-2 run that would force a Knicks timeout as their lead fell down to 7. It looked like the Knicks were going to get back on track after scoring right out of the timeout, but the Pistons were not done throwing punches. An Isaiah Livers 3 put the Pistons within 6, then he hit another one after the Knicks hit one of their own.
It looked like the Knicks might pull away, but the Pistons were not done fighting. A couple of Bojan Bogdanovic free throws put the Pistons within 4 with a minute left. However, that is the closest they would get as the Knicks had just enough follow-up punches to hold onto this game. The Knicks would win 121-112
It was an encouraging performance for the Pistons, as they kept fighting a made what looked like a blowout close. They were also playing without Cade Cunningham, which makes the feat even more impressive. The biggest difference was the bench for the Pistons. The bench scored 53 points and they played most of the 4th quarter because they were playing so well.
Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons in scoring with 25, and surprisingly did that while shooting 0-of-5 from three. Killian Hayes cooled off down the stretch, but he had 11 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Alec Burks led the Pistons bench scoring with 17 points.
RJ Barrett had 30 points for the Knicks and Jalen Brunson had 26 points and 7 assists.
The Pistons will be back at it tomorrow at home against the Boston Celtics.