The Detroit Pistons were looking for that first win of the 2014-15 season. The New York Knicks were looking to put last night’s loss to the Washington Wizards behind them where they did not lose just the game, they also lost J.R. Smith to a 1-game suspension. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy made an adjustment to the starting lineup. That is number 1 on my list of things that I noticed in this game.
1.) Obviously we all saw that Van Gundy made an adjustment and went with the jumbo package for his starting frontline. Yes Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond all started together and Detroit was surprisingly efficient with them in the game. The three of them attacked the glass with a reckless abandon and Smith held Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony in check. Anthony didn’t score his first points until the 2:57 mark when he made a few free throws and his first field goal didn’t come until the 3rd quarter. Smith played a big part in that.
Another adjustment was that Kyle Singler, a regular starter through the first three games, didn’t receive much playing time and Jonas Jerebko got the backup power forward minutes. Jerebko was a big help knocking down 3/4 from deep and scoring 11 points.
2.) The 3-point shot was falling in the first half of this one. Detroit, who came in shooting 21.2% from deep on the season, knocked down 5/7 from deep led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s 3/3 performance from downtown to help give Detroit a 49-37 lead at the half. The 3-ball continued to help the Pistons especially early in the 4th quarter when Caron Butler and D.J. Augustin each knocked down a 3 to give the Pistons a big lead in the 4th quarter. All in all, Detroit finished a very impressive by their standards 11/23 from deep.
3.) One red flag for me is the late game execution. After Caldwell-Pope gave Detroit an 87-71 lead with 6:38 left, the Knicks would answer behind Tim Hardaway Jr. and Amar’e Stoudemire and would pull to within 91-86 with 2:08 left. Monroe’s hook shot put the Pistons in front 93-86 with 1:08 left to stem the tide a little bit, but the Knicks came charging back hard.
Anthony had a few buckets to bring the Knicks to within 95-91 with 16 seconds left. Then Hardaway Jr. hit a 3-pointer to bring New York to within 97-94. Caldwell-Pope missed two free throws after being fouled intentionally and then he fouled Iman Shumpert to prevent a game-tying 3 and Shumpert could hit one of the two. Brandon Jennings then iced it with one of two free throws and the Pistons survived with a 98-95 win.
The fact that Detroit gave up 36 points in the 4th quarter, allowed New York to go on a 21-8 run, and almost blew a big lead in the 4th quarter at home is alarming. The Pistons were in the driver’s seat and then they for comfortable and allowed New York to almost steal one on their home floor. They got lazy, their attention to detail was poor, and offensively they jacked up bad shots. A win is a win, and it definitely does feel good to finally win, but it feels like an empty win.
Monroe finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup and Caldwell-Pope had 20 on 4/7 shooting from deep. Smith has eight points on a disgusting 2/17 shooting and had 10 rebounds and Drummond had seven and 13 boards.
Up next: Friday at home against the Milwaukee Bucks