New York Knicks thwart Detroit Pistons to end five-game skid

By Everett Merrill, The Sports Xchange  |  March 28, 2017 at 2:00 AM
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NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks started playoff spoiler week with an impressive 109-95 win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday at Madison Square Garden.

In snapping their five-game losing streak, the Knicks, who will miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive season, also dealt a setback to Detroit's playoff hopes. The Pistons (34-40) missed an opportunity to gain ground on the two teams they are chasing in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Both Miami, which is in the eighth and final playoff spot, and Chicago, sitting in ninth, were off Monday. The loss dropped the Pistons, who are 10th, 1 1/2 games behind the Heat for the last spot. Detroit hosts Miami on Tuesday.

The Pistons have lost four straight and seven of their past eight. They are 11-26 on the road and 20-26 against the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks will also have a say in Miami's future. Coach Jeff Hornacek's team plays a home-and-home with Miami this week, hosting the Heat on Wednesday, then playing in Miami on Friday.

Kristaps Porzingis played a key role for New York (28-46) with 25 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots. He was 10 of 16 from the field.

The Knicks shot 53.6 percent and had 26 assists in one of their better offensive games of the season.

Carmelo Anthony, who missed the last two games with a sore knee, had 21 points and five assists, and Derrick Rose added 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting and six assists. He has 22 assists and just five turnovers in his past four games.

New York forced 20 turnovers, scoring 18 points off the Pistons' mistakes.

"I thought our defense was very good," said Hornacek. "They moved the ball, they executed, they made extra passes, they fought over screens and they helped each other out defensively."

Marcus Morris led the Pistons with 20 points, and Andre Drummond had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

A conventional three-point play from Knicks center Willy Hernangomez extended New York's lead to 101-87 with 3:51 remaining.

The Knicks missed nine shots in a row and went four minutes without scoring as the Pistons pulled to within 94-85 with 5:24 to play. That was the closest they got.

New York opened the third quarter with a 13-0 spurt to push its lead to 77-59. The Knicks made 7 of 11 shots from the floor in the spree.

Detroit missed its first 10 shots of the third quarter before Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a trey with 4:52 left in the quarter.

"That was the game right there," said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy of the fateful quarter. "I thought our guys fought, they didn't give up the ship.

"You look at four losses here (New York and Brooklyn), a home loss to Philly, two losses to Orlando, all teams that are behind us. That's a huge part of where we are right now."

Anthony tossed in 17 points in the second quarter. His third 3-pointer gave New York a 64-59 cushion at the break. He was 8 of 12 with four assists in the half.

New York shot 60 percent from the field in the first two quarters.

Four straight jumpers from Anthony, including a 3-pointer, gave the Knicks a 50-44 lead with 6:36 left in the second quarter.

Morris delivered 10 points and Drummond had eight points and seven rebounds to help Detroit to a 36-34 lead in the first quarter. Porzingis poured in 15 points.

The Knicks went on an 8-0 run to tie the score at 24 on Anthony's first basket of the night.

Hornacek understands the Knicks' fans' frustration when they win, instead of losing to get in position for a high lottery pick.

"When you're not in the playoffs, everyone looks to what's the best draft pick you can get," Hornacek noted. "It's understandable."

NOTES: The Knicks avoided tying their longest losing streak of the season. New York dropped six in a row from Dec. 25 to Jan. 4. ... Pistons F Reggie Jackson was given the night off for rest. ... Detroit's starters are all averaging 14-plus points per game. The Pistons are the first team since 2006-07 to have five players average 14-plus points in a season. All five starters scored in double digits on Monday. ... Pistons G Ish Smith is four games from playing in his 400th game. ... Detroit ranks first in fewest second-chance points allowed. ... Detroit C Andre Drummond has collected the third-most offensive rebounds in the NBA among players in the first five years of their career since 1973-74. ... Knicks C Willy Hernangomez is first among rookies in field-goal percentage and second in rebounds. He scored 15 points and grabbed five rebounds.

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