D-E-F-E-N-S-E. What does that spell, ladies and gentleman? If you’re a Knicks player, you couldn’t spell nor understand the concept as the Pistons torched them from three-point land and dropped the Knicks to 0-2 on the road. Considering this was the first of a three games in four nights stretch, this defeat is extremely disappointing against the “easiest” team paper.
OPEN SHOTS: At one point last in the first half, the Pistons were shooting 59% from the field. Marcus Morris seemed on pace for a career night with 16 points on 7/9 shooting, and repeatedly made Melo look slow and old on the defensive end. Melo was efficient on the scoring end with 14 points, but the lack of defense made it essentially trading baskets with Pistons going up at one point by 13 due to the second unit not being able to score.
FRONTCOURT DOMINANCE SANS DRUMMOND: Coming into last night, the main concern was containing Andre Drummond, who on a good night can have a 20-20 game. In that regard, Joakim Noah (2 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists) did a fantastic job holding him to 9 points (Drummond did manage 13 rebounds). The problem was due to Noah not being able to slack off Drummond, Tobias Harris and Morris (22 points) went off. The former had 25 points on 8/12 shooting, which is a big indictment on how bad Porzingis and Lance Thomas guarded him. Harris had way too many easy looks at the rim. Overall, the Pistons outscored the Knicks 50-32 in the paint.
RANDOM BIG NIGHT: If you’re looking for an x-factor, it was Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He nailed four treys and delivered 19 points. Once again, the Knicks failing to close out adequately on shooters was a huge issue.
CLOSING WITH A WHIMPER: Despite how bad we looked for three quarters, the Knicks were right there in the fourth down 89-92 with nearly six minutes left. From there we had two bad iso situations with Rose and Melo, and would not have a field goal the rest of the game.
BAD LINEUPS: Because we’re playing Houston tonight, I understand Hornacek was trying lineups that would preserve our starters. The problem was the guys he selected for big minutes, like Lance Thomas (1-6 in 26 minutes), couldn’t produce. Since our bench is weak when it comes to offense and playmaking, every lineup out there needs to have at least one starter that can score (Melo, Rose or KP). Thomas wasn’t pulled until 3:22 left in the fourth.
We’ll see if home court gets us re-energized for the Rockets.