Observations: Pistons no match for Julius Randle, Knicks in 117-104 loss

Detroit News

Detroit — The Pistons had just one game standing between them and their trip to France, so it was imperative to remain focused for the task at hand on Sunday before shifting their focus toward Paris.

The New York Knicks were on the docket for an early game at Little Caesars Arena. Detroit entered the game looking to snap a 10-game losing streak to the Knicks, which included three losses earlier this season.

The game already was an uphill climb because Bojan Bogdanovic was a late scratch due to a non-COVID illness. Isaiah Stewart returned to the lineup, but struggled with foul trouble and never found his footing until the fourth quarter.

Knicks forward Julius Randle, who scored 36 points in his last visit to Detroit, took advantage of the Pistons’ depleted frontcourt and finished with 42 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Knicks to a 117-104 victory on Sunday.

BOX SCORE: Knicks 117, Pistons 104

The Pistons never led in the game and trailed by as many as 20 points, but came within seven after Isaiah Livers nailed a corner 3 with5:17 to play in the game. The crowd had been dormant, but came alive after that shot went down. After a short delay due to clock issues, the Knicks closed the game on a 11-6 run to complete a four-game sweep against Detroit this season.

“We competed,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “I thought that was the best thing about today. We did compete at a better level than we had against New York those other times. I thought we had momentum going into the last few minutes until the clock went out, then we lost our mojo a little bit. We did a lot of good things defensively and got stops, we just couldn’t come up with rebounds.”

Jaden Ivey had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. Alec Burks scored 14 points off the bench.

“I feel like I saw fight the whole game,” Ivey said. “We barely have any height and have some guys out, but we battled the whole game. We should have started the game better, but we battled in a lot of the possessions late game. Our identity was just to fight.”

With the loss, Detroit dropped to 12-35, while New York improved to 25-19.

Here are a few quick takeaways from Sunday’s loss:

▶ 3-point shot: The Pistons shot significantly better from the perimeter against the Knicks after shooting 7-of-30 from the 3-point line against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. Detroit made 18-of-44 (40.9%) from the perimeter on Sunday. Bey accounted for five of those, while Burks added four triples. The deep ball kept Detroit within striking distance, but they couldn’t neutralize Randle or contain Jalen Brunson, who finished with 27 points, five rebounds and four assists.

▶ Saddiq Bey steps up: Without Bogdanovic available, the Pistons desperately needed someone to fill the void on offense. Bey led the way for the Pistons on Sunday with his perimeter shooting and ability to get to the free throw line. The third-year forward connected on five triples to lead the team with 21 points and six rebounds on 6-of-13 shooting from the field. He knocked down his fifth 3-pointer late in the third quarter as Randle contested to bring the Pistons within three. If Bey can remain consistent from beyond the perimeter, it’ll bode well for the team when Bogdanovic returns to the lineup.

▶ Stewart returns: Stewart made his return to the lineup on Sunday after missing the last three games due to a left shoulder injury. Stewart’s addition to the lineup was supposed to provide Detroit with an improved interior presence, but his time on the court was limited after picking up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game. Detroit then went small and had Isaiah Livers and Hamidou Diallo taking turns playing center to defend Mitchell Robinson, who totaled four points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Stewart had six points, nine rebounds, two blocks and five fouls on Sunday.

▶ Kevin Knox performs well against old team: The “next-man-up” mentality has been a mantra for the Pistons all season long due to injuries and illnesses. Knox, who was selected with the ninth overall pick by the Knicks in 2018, received an increased role and thrived against this old team. He led the Pistons’ second unit in scoring with 16 points. He scored seven of those points in the second quarter, helping Detroit cut into New York’s double-digit lead. Knox nailed his third triple of the game late in the third quarter to bring Detroit within seven points. After the shot, he held his follow-thru as a sign that he was in the zone. Knox was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, a refreshing sight since he had struggled over the past few weeks.


Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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