NEW YORK — The game appeared over. The New York Knicks dominated the opening two minutes of the second half, scoring 11 straight points to take a 22-point lead over the visiting Detroit Pistons. Second halves have been an issue for the Pistons this season. After snapping a 14-game losing streak against the Miami Heat on Sunday, it appeared they were reverting back to old habits.
Instead of folding, though, the Pistons made things interesting. They closed the third quarter with a 16-8 run that cut the deficit to nine with 36.3 seconds left in the period. That momentum carried into the fourth, when a Frank Jackson-to-Saben Lee alley-oop, along with a foul, cut the deficit to five, 86-81, with 8:55 to play.
It wasn’t enough, as the Knicks clamped down and managed to escape Madison Square Garden with a 105-91 victory. The shorthanded Pistons (5-25) were even more sothan they were Sunday, as Killian Hayes missed the game due to a non-COVID illness. Dwane Casey also missed his second straight road game due to personal reasons, leaving assistant coach Rex Kalamian in charge again.
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Five players reached double figures for the Pistons. They were led by Lee (16 points, three assists), Saddiq Bey (15 points, seven rebounds) and Cory Joseph (15 points). Isaiah Stewart added nine points and 11 rebounds, and Cade Cunningham flirted with a triple-double with seven points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
Detroit’s lack of size was glaring against the Knicks. Mitchell Robinson had several alley-oop and putback dunks en route to a 17-point, 14-rebound double-double. Evan Fournier led all scorers with 22 points, and Julius Randle and Kemba Walker both scored 21. Randle added 11 rebounds.
Trey Lyles (13 points) sparked Detroit’s third-quarter run, scoring nine points in the final 2:42 of the period. Poor shooting hurt the Pistons’ comeback effort, as they knocked down just 36.2% of their shot attempts and eight of 33 3-point attempts.
Hayes’ absence forces more lineup changes
Hayes was a surprise scratch, ruled out on the 6:30 p.m. injury report. Kalamian inserted Joseph into the starting lineup, and he responded with one of his better performances of the season. As Detroit’s offense stalled through the better part of the first three quarters, Joseph knocked down six of his first seven shots.
Kalamian went 10 deep into his rotation in the first quarter. Lee, Jackson, Rodney McGruder, Lyles and Luka Garza all saw time. Detroit led 14-9 midway through the first, but New York closed the quarter with a 15-3 run to build a seven-point lead. The Knicks extended the run to 18-3 early in the second quarter with a layup from Alec Burks and split trip at the line by Wayne Selden Jr.
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