Detroit − The Pistons haven’t played any team this season more than the New York Knicks.
Tuesday’s game at Little Caesars Arena marked the fourth meeting between the teams since the beginning of the preseason.
That means there have been four opportunities to become familiar with each other’s tendencies. Four chances to test different lineups. And four games to see which team has the better roster.
Each game has gone in New York’s favor, in dominating fashion, which continued on Tuesday.
The Pistons couldn’t recover from a barrage of early 3-pointers by Julius Randle and suffered a 140-110 loss to the Knicks, their third consecutive defeat.
Despite their recent stretch of competitive basketball, the Pistons fell into an early hole due to the efficient perimeter shooting from the Knicks. New York finished shooting 16-of-35 from beyond the arc.
“We contributed to some of that with our soft defense,” said Pistons coach Dwane Casey. “I think tonight’s game was a delayed reaction from the west coast trip. I expected this game on Monday. We came out with some fight. Tonight, we didn’t. They got a dunk on the first play of the game and it started from there. Tonight was a stinker.”
Randle began the game in a comfortable and confident rhythm from 3-point range. The 6-foot-8 forward connected on 4-of-7 from beyond the arc in the first five minutes of action. He scored 26 of his game-high 36 points in the first half.
Isaiah Stewart, who was sidelined for the team’s six-game road trip and Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, also returned to the lineup. He finished with a team-high 19 points and five rebounds, including a career-high five 3-pointers.
He was also called for a technical foul early in the third quarter after shoving Randle, who finished a dunk over the 6-foot-8 forward. Randle appeared to have taunted Stewart following the dunk. The play was reviewed and Stewart was assessed a technical foul for a hostile act following a dead ball.
After the game, Stewart declined to go into much detail about what Randle said after the play.
“If you just watch the replay,” he said. “I got a tech from it, but he just got in my face after the dunk. Obviously, I reacted the way I reacted, but that’s behind me. I’m not gonna speak on that.”
Marvin Bagley III was questionable to play against the Knicks due to a migraine, but the Pistons’ big man appeared comfortable from the perimeter as he made his first three triples on his way to 13 points and seven rebounds.
Bojan Bogdanovic, who missed two games due to right knee and ankle soreness, returned to the lineup and finished with 13 points and two assists. The veteran forward did not appear to be rusty despite the brief time off but he only managed to play 19 minutes, likely due to a minutes restriction. He connected on his first 3-pointer and had no problem getting to his spots in the mid-range game.
Detroit coach Dwane Casey experimented with a new starting lineup against the Knicks on Tuesday. He began with a group of Killian Hayes, Bogdanovic, Stewart, Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Livers, who started at the shooting guard position. Livers tallied six points and three rebounds.
Saddiq Bey came off the bench for the second time this season. He had a solid outing of 11 points, but missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
The new second unit affected the offensive groove of Alec Burks, who snapped his six-game streak of scoring in double figures. The former Knicks guard finished scoreless in 15 minutes off the bench.
Jaden Ivey missed his third consecutive game due to right knee soreness suffered in last week’s win over the Utah Jazz. The rookie guard was a gametime decision, so his return may be approaching soon.
The Knicks led by as many as 31 points in the third quarter. Jalen Brunson complimented Randle’s scoring with 16 points and five assists. RJ Barrett added 16 points and four rebounds. Quentin Grimes totaled 16 points and six rebounds. Immanuel Quickley had 15 points and four assists off the bench.
Detroit will look to rebound from its three-game slump on Thursday when Luka Doncic − the league’s leading scorer − and the Dallas Mavericks come to town. The game will air at 7 p.m. on NBA TV.