Knicks survive disaster as they avoid comeback win over Pistons

Knicks survive disaster as they avoid comeback win over Pistons

The Knicks didn’t provide the fire-breathing or intense response expected after their loss to the Nets on Wednesday.

Yes, they came off the mat Friday night after that 27-point loss to their Crosstown rivals. But it felt more like a survival disaster than a full 48 minutes of confidence-building basketball.

The Knicks eliminated the Pistons to three wins, 121-112, Friday night at the Garden, mainly because schedulers offered them an inferior opponent who lacked their best player. Detroit is rebuilding and lacked building block Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft.

“It was very important [to win this game]. You saw what happened on Wednesday, and we had to bounce back,” Jalen Brunson said. “We just kept fighting, although we could have finished the game a bit better.”

The Knicks had several chances to put the hammer down throughout a mediocre effort, but they couldn’t do it until the very end. There were too many defensive lapses, second-chance opportunities given to the Pistons and overall inconsistency, a concerning feature of the Knicks (6-6) so far this season.

RJ Barrett shoots during the first quarter.
RJ Barrett shoots during the first quarter.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

There were positives. RJ Barrett scored a season-high 30 points in one of his best games of the young season, and Brunson had 26 points, 11 in the fourth quarter and seven assists. But the defense was shaky for most of the night, sending Detroit to the free throw line 41 times. The Pistons, winless so far on the road, came close to four points with 1:20 to go before Barrett hit two free throws and Immanuel Quickley put it away with a 3-point left corner as the Knicks came back at 0.500.

“It’s hard to put a team out if you’re constantly putting them on the line,” Barrett said.

It was an important victory, ugly as it was. The Knicks needed to build momentum heading into a fearsome five-game road trip out West that kicks off at the surprising Jazz on Tuesday. Friday’s victory was at least a small step in the right direction, with the Thunder coming to the Garden on Sunday.

Julius Randle, right, hugs Tom Thibodeau.
Julius Randle, right, hugs Tom Thibodeau during the Knicks’ win over the Pistons.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Six points from Barrett on a 9-0 run late in the first quarter helped pull the Knicks out of a flat start. So did Derrick Rose, who was the first Knick to come off the bench and went plus-12 in a six-point, eight-minute first half.

For a long stretch in the second quarter, coach Tom Thibodeau went to the Julius Randle-Obi Toppin duo up front (Jericho Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein were both at fault, requiring the move), with Quentin Grimes, Barrett and Brunson in the backcourt. The Knicks built their lead up to 16 with this quintet on the ground, although there was some slippage on defense and the Pistons trailed just 10 at the break.

The offensive performance in the first 24 minutes was in line with several Knicks wins this season: 13 assists on 23 field goals, points from eight different players and a quick offense leading to open looks. The ball moved, the extra passes were made and the shots fell.

Jalen Brunson scores during the second quarter.
Jalen Brunson scores during the second quarter.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“It was fun to play basketball like that, to have multiple guys involved, to get everyone contributing,” Barrett said.

The Knicks started the second half well, pushing their lead to 17, but just like at the end of the second quarter, they couldn’t hold onto that advantage. When Jaden Ivey and Hamidou Diallo scored for Detroit on back-to-back drives early in the fourth quarter, the Knicks’ lead had fallen to seven.

He got even closer in the last 90 seconds. But the Knicks made enough plays in the streak to win, tense because it got late. That’s what mattered most to them on Friday night.

“[On Wednesday] we weren’t at our best, and that got us back on track,” Randle said.

#Knicks #survive #disaster #avoid #comeback #win #Pistons

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *