As energetic as the Detroit Pistons were in a convincing victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, they were the polar opposite in an uninspiring 114-104 loss to the New York Knicks in the final game before the All-Star break.
The Knicks were able to score 66 points in the paint as the guards were unable to prevent penetration and the big men were either undersized, late in rotating or both. The Knicks were led by Julius Randle with 27 points and got any shot he wanted.
It was a rare total dud of a game for Detroit. They’ve lost plenty this season, but usually there is something you can hang your hat on or the rookies playing hard and playing well. The Pistons trailed by as many as 20 and usually hovered around a 12- to 16-point deficit. Just large enough to never be interesting. Tonight, other than an impressive early flourish from Isaiah Stewart, who even hit some mid-range jumpers, no Piston player stood out.
Saddiq Bey struggled with his perimeter shot, Stewart struggled on defense, Saben Lee had zero impact on the floor, and Dennis Smith Jr. struggled with decision making. Detroit was dominated by Randle on the offensive end, and owned at the rim by Nerlens Noel on defense, who rejected or influenced a number of shots.
It’s never a good sign when your led in scoring by Wayne Ellington on a night he doesn’t even shoot particularly well with 17 points and the only player with a positive plus-minus is veteran center Mason Plumlee (plus-3).
Hopefully, they take a nice, long break and come back refreshed and ready to compete.