The Knicks shot the ball well all night for the most part, but their shady defense was too much to overcome. Their defense was fantastic at times led by Frank Ntilikina and Mitchell Robinson, but their struggles became very apparent when Frank rested on the bench and Mitchell Robinson left the game in the 2nd quarter with concussion like symptoms, never to return. A major positive for the Knicks was that Frank Ntilikina looked the best he has in his entire career. Frank scored 11 points on 5-7 shooting, while adding 4 assists, 3 blocks, a steal, locking down defensively leading to many turnovers/bad shots for Detroit, and he ran the offense well. Impressive rookie RJ Barrett continued to show his multitude of strengths scoring 15 points, grabbing 6 rebounds, racking in 8 assists, and swiping 2 steals. Barrett did have a poor shooting night shooting 4-12 from the floor and 6-11 from the line. It is still promising that Barrett continues to get to the line every night, and with time his shot will improve and those numbers will rise. Julius Randle (20 points) and Marcus Morris Sr. (18 points) both had good games offensively, but struggled grabbing rebounds which was crucial for the Knicks to win this game. Both had a season low in rebounds with Randle only grabbing 3 and Morris Sr. getting 4. The Knicks were outrebounded by Detroit 49 to 40. Kevin Knox continued to thrive off of the bench in his 2nd season scoring 14 points shooting an efficient 5-7 from the floor. Bobby Portis Jr. had a tumultuous night on offense only scoring 3 points in 21 minutes. As for the Pistons, they were led by the hot shooting of Andre Drummond 27 points (12-16), Tony Snell 24 points (9-9), and Markieff Morris 22 points (7-11). The Pistons as a team shot 55.7% from the floor, their best in a game since 2017. They also recorded 37 assists in this game, 2nd most in the NBA this season and the most they’ve had in any game since 2010.
Why The Knicks Lost
The poor defense of Julius Randle (defensive rating of 133.3), Marcus Morris Sr. (def rtg of 129.6), and Bobby Portis Jr. (def rtg of 125.6) crushed the Knicks chances of winning this one. The Knicks lack of effort and poise was displayed through commiting 20 fouls including 2 technicals and 1 flagrant. The Knicks free throw shooting continued to plague them shooting an awful 61.9% from the line in this game. They had issues closing out on three pointers too, allowing Detroit to shoot 50% on 30 attempts from three in this game. The Pistons also dominated the paint scoring 54 points in the paint (12 more than the Knicks). The Knicks did a lot of complaining and begging for calls in this game with the officials. Some calls were debatable, but certainly not worth half of the complaining the Knicks did. It seemed to rattle the Knicks and resulted in a lack of focus in the second half. This will need to stop for New York to continue to grow and be tougher. This mentality change will have to come from the team’s leaders, especially because Randle and Morris Sr. both picked up technical fouls arguing with the refs and Taj Gibson was also arguing with the officials down the stretch.
The Knicks looked much better offensively in this game in the first 3 quarters scoring 85 points. Also, the play from the young guys (Ntilikina, Barrett, Knox, and Robinson) was fantastic, showing they are moving in the right direction. The bench is going to need to play much better defensively in the future, as they gave up 17 points in a 4 minute stretch when Ntilikina and Robinson were both off the floor. It is crucial for the Knicks to contest shooters better as they continue to allow teams to shoot the lights out from three, forcing themselves to have to overcome large deficits early in games. The Knicks will be playing next, Friday night at 8:30pm Eastern Time in Dallas against the Mavericks (their first matchup against Kristaps Porzingis since trading him last season).