| The Detroit News
Detroit — After a string of relatively close losses, the Pistons may have been due to have a stinker of a game.
They lost to the Kings by three and the Pelicans by 10, along with a defeat to the Magic by nine and the Grizzlies by 14.
For a while, they had avoided the big double-digit losses.
They scrapped and tussled but couldn’t get over the hump against the New York Knicks before falling, 109-90, on Sunday night at Little Caesars Arena, their sixth loss in the last seven games.
BOX SCORE: Knicks 109, Pistons 90
The bigger concern could be the health of leading scorer Jerami Grant, who left the game in the fourth quarter because of a leg injury. Coach Dwane Casey called it a mild calf strain and said they would see how Grant feels Monday.
More: Pistons’ Killian Hayes ‘coming right along’ as he works toward return from hip injury
Grant finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, Wayne Ellington 15 points, Josh Jackson 12 points and Saddiq Bey 10 points for the Pistons (9-25).
The Pistons have two games, both on the road, remaining in the first half of the season: Tuesday at Toronto (in Tampa, Fla.) and Thursday at the Knicks.
It’s their biggest losing margin since a 20-point loss against the Milwaukee Bucks on Jan. 4.
Subscription: Observations: How little things added up to befall Pistons in latest loss
“It’s a make-or-miss league and we just didn’t make the open looks,” Casey said. “They were the aggressive team the entire night.”
The Pistons had another slow start in the first quarter, but pulled close with a 7-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Dennis Smith Jr. (seven points and seven rebounds), a dunk by Mason Plumlee and a coast-to-coast score from Grant.
R.J. Barrett (21 points) scored eight straight points for the Knicks (18-17) and helped get them to a 25-20 lead after the first quarter. The Pistons got within 34-31 on a free throw by Josh Jackson (12 points) before the Knicks ended the quarter with a 14-6 run, with a 3-pointer and a fadeaway jumper by All-Star Julius Randle (25 points, eight rebounds and six assists), pushing the lead to 48-37.
Randle finished the game 10-of-18 from the field and 3-of-6 on 3-pointers. He’s proven tough to defend, but when he’s on his game, it’s that much more difficult.
“That young man is a great example of how guys develop. He’s reshaped his game,” Casey said. “He’s a hard cover and when you get him off his sweet spot, you have to guard his tendencies.”
The Pistons got another burst from Grant, who scored seven points early in the third quarter, but they couldn’t get the lead under double digits. Randle (10-of-18 field goals, 3-of-6 on 3-pointers) had his way in the paint and got the shots he wanted, as the Knicks extended the lead to 19 entering the fourth quarter.
Bey struggled, going 3-of-12 from the field and making only 2-of-8 on 3-pointers, but he scored in double figures again, marking the 11th straight game that he’s reached the mark, the longest for any rookie this season.