Despite a lackluster effort in the first half, the Detroit Pistons had a chance to steal one late against the New York Knicks. But Pistons killer Alec Burks made one too many place and Detroit lost 104-102.
Burks made a huge three with 45 seconds left in the game to put the Knicks up four. Killian Hayes responded with a nice take for two points. Detroit then got a stop and had the ball in Cade Cunningham’s hands with six seconds left. But Burks recovered well after Cade created some space and poked the ball out of the shooter’s hands on the way up and the Knicks got away with one after blowing a big lead.
For most of the first half, it looked like it would be a laugher. The Knicks made a bunch of shots, and the Pistons’ energy level was decidedly low.
Marvin Bagley III was the only thing keeping Detroit remotely in the game. He made all seven of his shots in the first half while scoring in a variety of ways. With no one else getting it going early on, Bagley played a huge role in steadying the ship.
New York led by as much as 19, but Cade Cunningham led Detroit back late in the second quarter to go into halftime down only 12.
The Pistons closed the gap in the third quarter, led by eight strong points from Saddiq Bey. But the second half comeback was more a product of a balanced attack coming from pretty much everywhere. That included newcomer Braxton Key, who brought great energy in his minutes as the backup four. That energy led to a lot of good plays on both ends. That showed up in the box score where Key ended the game with nine points, two rebounds, two steals, and a block.
But the real story of the game from Detroit’s end was Marvin Bagley III. Bagley was an unstoppable force on the offensive end, taking advantage of the much slower Julius Randle every time he attempted to guard him. That mismatch culminated in this terrific punctuation with the game in the balance:
Bagley ended the game with 27 points on only 14 shots while adding seven rebounds and a pretty solid defensive effort. His team-high +8 on the court was reflective of his performance.
The thin forward room resulted in Bagley playing most of his minutes with Isaiah Stewart. Dwane Casey was able to get away with it against a bigger Knicks frontcourt and the results were mostly positive. The Bagley/Stewart combination led to more length around the rim and the duo managed to space the floor decently, shooting three of five from deep.
That combination isn’t likely to be a long-term starting solution, but it was nice to see Stewart and Bagley play well together because it certainly can be a duo that Detroit can lean on against bigger teams if Troy Weaver decides to bring Bagley back next season.
- It’s becoming clearer by the game that Cade’s biggest improvement this summer needs to be his ball handling. He’s not nearly strong enough with the ball at the moment and it usually leads to multiple turnovers a night that can be easily fixed.
- The Rodney McGruder experience was fun when he was making shots for a stretch, but it’s run its course with 9 games left in the year.