Detroit Pistons fail to complete 21-point comeback, fall to New York Knicks, 104-102

Detroit Free Press

Another day, another failed Detroit Pistons comeback bid.

The New York Knicks built a 21-point lead in the second quarter. The Pistons used a 26-7 run to cut the deficit to two in the third quarter, but was unable to re-take the lead.

Alec Burks blocked Cade Cunningham’s potential game-tying midrange shot on the final play of the game to help the Knicks secure a 104-102 win at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday.

SOPHOMORE LESSONS: How Killian Hayes is using his floater — and body — better this season

It was Detroit’s second straight loss. They fell to the Washington Wizards on Friday, 100-97, after failing to rally from a 17-point deficit.

Marvin Bagley III scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Cunningham added 18 points and seven rebounds. Isaiah Stewart had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Knicks were led by RJ Barrett (21 points, nine rebounds) and Julius Randle (20 points, seven rebounds, five assists).

Bagley continues to thrive offensively

Two days after setting his personal best with the Pistons with 25 points, Bagley put together his best offensive performance of the season.

Bagley showed once again that he’s a gifted interior scorer. He completed lobs from Cunningham, Killian Hayes and Kelly Olynyk, knocked down midrange shots and finished his usual diet of post hooks.

In 16 games with the Pistons, Bagley has 30 dunks. In 30 games with the Kings this season, he dunked 16 times. It illustrates how much his role has shifted. He fell out of favor in Sacramento, and the coaching staff there often had him standing in the corner.

Bagley is best when he’s in the paint, and the Pistons have been happy to leverage that. They opened the game with a lob play to get Bagley going early, and he finished the day with four dunks.

Bagley, Stewart show partnership can work

With Jerami Grant out because of a left calf strain, Dwane Casey inserted Bagley into the starting lineup for the sixth time this season. Since neither he or Stewart, the starting center, are good at shooting the 3-ball, Casey has opted to stagger their minutes. Entering the game, Bagley had played 126 minutes this season next to Kelly Olynyk, a career 36.6% outside shooter. Bagley and Stewart had played 85 minutes together.

But we’re in the home stretch of the season, and Casey is using these games to take risks and give players opportunities to develop. For Stewart and Bagley to thrive together, one or both of them would have to embrace stretching the floor. They both stepped up.

Stewart shot 2 of 3 from the 3-point line on Sunday, the first time this season he’s had multiple makes from outside in a single game, and only the second time he took three attempts. Bagley, a more-willing shooter than Stewart, also knocked down a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter.

Both players were productive for the Pistons, and their comfort level as shooters will dictate how successful their partnership will be moving forward.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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