Make that 10 straight losses. The Knicks suited up just nine players tonight against the Pistons and spent most of the game in an offensive and defensive fog, going down by as many as 30 points before settling on a 97-81 defeat. Game like this don’t yield many positives. However, the game’s last few minutes allowed for a few moments of cheering.
EARLY PROVIDES A SPARK: Rookie Cleathony Early suited up for the first time since mid-November after going down with a knee injury. Nothing about his numbers tonight will jump out at you — 5 points, 1 rebounds and a steal in 14 minutes of play. But the rook showed strong effort. His most notable moment was a coast-to-coast drive that resulted in a three-point play opportunity. His ethusiasm picked up the energy of the rest of the team and got JR nailing a few threes to bring the lead back under 20.
With only a two minutes left, the fans knew the Knicks wouldn’t be overcoming a 16-18 point deficit. But the fact the team actually gave a damn resulted in loud cheers that would make you believe we were watching a tight playoff game.
Early hasn’t been tainted yet by the constant losing. Fisher should keep him in rotation and maybe his youthful enthusiasm will get contagious.
ANGRY BOOS: Before the late run, most of the night was filled with irate boos from the Garden faithful. The Pistons started pulling away in the second via an 11-0 run that put them up 40-27. With their best players out (Melo, Hardaway Jr, Stoudemire etc.), that Knicks were relegated to contested jumpshots and were shooting well under 40% They were outscored 33-18 in the second and down 58-37 at halftime.
The hammering continued in the third with Brandon Jennings sinking repeated threes. The fans were booing at every intermission and each time it seemed to sap the team’s focus and confidence. The lowest point came with Jennings hitting a three at the end of the third that put the deficit at 82-52.
RANDOM NOTES: JR Smith lead the team with 22 points, going 8/20 from the field (mostly due to chucking threes in the final minutes). Cole Aldrich had a solid outing against Andre Drummond with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks. Drummond had a low scoring night (7 points), but was a beast on the boards with 20 rebounds.
Andrea Bragnani was playing just his second game this season when he re-aggravated his right calf and left after a minute. No word on how much time he’s expected to miss.
The Knicks’ challenges mount as the team will play tough teams over the next week in the Grizzlies, Rockets, and Wizards.