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The Detroit Pistons were coming off a disappointing 1-3 road trip and came home to face an opponent who has owned them in the past, the New York Knicks. Spicing up this matchup was the twitter feud between Brandon Jennings and the Knicks’ J.R. Smith. Jennings called out Smith’s younger brother, Chris Smith, for being on an NBA team where he felt like he shouldn’t.
In the first quarter, Jennings left the game with an upset stomach. With no Chauncey Billups or Will Bynum, it left Detroit’s point guard duties to Rodney Stuckey and little used rookie Peyton Siva.
Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony and power forward Andrea Bargnani started the Knicks off to a 12-7 lead. Anthony hit his first two shots, then proceeded to shoot only 1/10 for the rest of the first half. Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe suffocated Anthony all night long.
Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, starting in place of Billups, played well knocking down a couple of 3-pointers in the first. Smith and Monroe had buckets to tie the game at 24 and Smith found Kyle Singler for a layup and Detroit led 26-24 after one.
In the second, Gigi Datome found Drummond for a dunk for a 28-26 lead but New York ripped off an 8-0 run led by Smith and two dynamite finishes by Amar’e Stoudemire for a 34-28 lead.
Jennings then came back after his stomach ache and figured out that all you have to do is throw the lob and Drummond will do the rest. Jennings threw two alley-oop lobs to Drummond for slams and Jennings had a layup to help the Pistons to a 40-38 lead 2:28 left in the first half.
Later, Smith was called for a foul on Anthony. Smith was then hit with a technical foul. Anthony made all three free throws for a 43-40 New York lead. Jennings found Datome for a big 3-pointer and Detroit and New York were tied at 43 heading into halftime.
In the third, Caldwell-Pope hit two 3′s for a 51-47 Detroit lead. New York closed to within 55-54 on an Iman Shumpert 3, but Smith knocked down a 3 followed by a Kyle Singler 3 for a 62-54 Pistons lead. Then the Stuckey show began.
Stuckey scored the last seven points of the third quarter, including a jumper over both Pablo Prigioni and Shumpert, to give Detroit a 71-63 lead after three. To start the 4th, Stuckey hit two jumpers and a free throw to give Detroit a 76-63 lead and then assisted on a Drummond dunk. Stuckey scored 13 straight points before he assisted on Drummond’s dunk. The Pistons were in the driver’s seat.
New York closed to within 78-70 but Drummond had an And-1 and he had another tip-in to give the Pistons an 83-72 lead. New York made one last run to get to within 87-82, but Stuckey found Smith for a dunk to put them up 89-82 with 1:04 left and the Pistons cruised from there. The Pistons took a 92-86 decision over New York and earned their first win over the Knicks since March 18, 2011.
Stuckey led the way 21 big points and five assists off the bench, Smith had 19, Monroe had 16 and 11 boards, Drummond had 13 and 11 boards, and Caldwell-Pope had 13.
The Pistons frustrated Anthony all night long. He had five fouls, a technical, and he had seven turnovers. I was very impressed with the way the Pistons defended tonight, considering the way they’ve defended all season.
Coming into tonight, teams shot 39.2% from 3 against the Pistons. The Pistons held the Knicks to 6/24 from 3, a 25% clip. The Pistons came into tonight shooting 28.1% from deep. Tonight they shot 7/19 from 3, good enough for 36.8%.
Overall, great effort tonight. Now the question is, can they sustain it? They head to Atlanta tomorrow in Josh Smith’s return to Philips Arena. Tomorrow is another game that Detroit must have.