Took Care of Business. NY 118 Detroit 112

In the old days of a few years ago, Before Thibodeau, and Before Brunson, the Knicks would have lost this game. NY jumped out to a big lead early against the 2-16 Detroit Pistons — who had lost 15 in a row coming in — but the Pistons ate away at the lead and tied the game by the half, and took the lead entering the 4th quarter.

Full of talented young players, the Pistons would just not go away. They kept hitting 3’s to stay in it and had a 2-pt lead with 9 minutes left.

But this NY team is now an elite NBA team — and they put the game into win-mode in the final 6 minutes to easily vanquish Detroit. The defense picked up; the passing got crisper, Jalen Brunson controlled the tempo, Julius Randle was driving to the bucket for scores, Josh Hart and Mitchell Robinson were ripping down boards, and Donte DiVincenzo started popping 3’s. Ballgame.

On a Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

“We just kept fighting,” said Jalen Brunson afterwards. “They’re going to keep playing hard no matter what. For us we had to continue to stick together, go thru a little adversity but keep fighting. Any team can beat anybody on any given night.”

NY improves to 11-7; Detroit falls to 2-17, and have now lost 16 in a row.

1. Knicks Jumped Out to Big Lead in 1st Quarter

The Knicks got off to a quick start and looked to make mincemeat of the 2-16 Pistons. Jalen Brunson led the charge early — scoring 16 points in the 1st quarter with drives and mid-range jumpers and 3’s.

When Brunson wasn’t scoring, Julius Randle was — with drives and a 3 — Randle had 9 points in the 1st quarter.

2. Detroit Came Back with 3’s

But Detroit, despite all the losing, has a lot of talent on its roster — the result of lots of very high draft picks the last few years. Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Marvin Bagley III, Jalen DurenIsaiah Livers, and Jaden Ivey lace up for this team — coached by former Knick Monty Williams, who made a name for himself as one of the best coaches in the NBA in Phoenix, before getting fired at the end of last season.

And then there is Marcus Sasser, a 23-year-old 6’2 guard out of Houston who comes off the end of the Piston bench and absolutely killed the Knicks in this game. He was the main reason Detroit stayed in the game — going 5-7 from 3 (and 6-11 overall) for 17 points in 20 minutes.

Sasser was the #25 pick in last June’s draft.

3. Detroit Led with 9 Minutes Left

Cade Cunningham was also a handful to guard — he scored 31 pts on 12-20 shooting, including 4-9 from 3, and Killian Hayes was 10-13 from the floor, and 2-3 from 3, for 23 points.

In contrast, the Knick guards — sans Brunson and DiVincenzo — didn’t shoot well from outside. Immanuel Quickley had an off night — 5 pts on 2-10 shooting. Quentin Grimes also had a poor shooting night — 0-5 (0-3 from 3) for 0 pts in 16 minutes. RJ Barrett shot 1-6 from 3, but made up for it with aggressive, efficient drives to the basket for 15 points on 5-12 shooting overall.

“Tough shots and fouls hurt us,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “They played really hard; I knew they weren’t going away. And then we were in for a dogfight. Our defense wasn’t very good tonight; the rebounding wasn’t what it needed to be. In the end though, we found a way to win — and that’s the bottom line.”

4. Knicks Put It Into Win Mode

With all that backcourt firepower hitting 3 after 3, and with Marvin Bagley III (8 pts) and Jalen Duran (10 pts) getting buckets inside — Detroit would not go away.

Down 2 entering the 4th, the Knicks took back the lead on an RJ Barrett drive.

But Detroit came right back on Jaden Ivey free throws and a 3 by Ausar Thompson to take a 93-91 lead with 9:45 left.

Soon afterwards, Donte DiVincenzo hit the first of 3 big 3’s in the 4th, putting NY up 95-93. NY’s Defense tightened at the 3-point line, and Julius Randle started powering inside for buckets, and if he didn’t score, feeding outside — the Knicks sprayed — and found Donte DiVincenzo for 2 more 3’s.

DiVincenzo’s 3 with 4:19 left put NY up 109-103.

With NY up 111-106, Julius Randle made consecutive power drives to the basket to give NY a 115-106 lead with 1:33 left and ballgame.


Brunson finished with 42 points on 13-24 shooting (7-12 from 3), with 8 assists and 6 rebounds.

Randle had 29 pts on 12-21 shooting, with 10 rebounds and 8 assists.

Mitchell Robinson had 9 rebounds and 6 points, including 2-2 from the free throw line — both free throws made late in the 4th quarter.

DiVincenzo finished with 12 pts on 4-8 shooting, all shots were 3 pointers.

“I loved the lift that Josh and Donte gave us,” said Thibs afterwards. “Down the stretch we were just trying to find a group that was going good, that’s why we finished the way we did.”

Isaiah Hartenstein played well, although the box score doesn’t show much — 3 rebounds in 16 minutes.

Kevin Knox comes off the Detroit bench. He had 3 points in 9 minutes — hitting a drive and a free throw.

The Boxscore


1 Comment

  1. The Big Ragu is starting to get playing time at end of games — over QGrimes & RJ last night. Knicks need his sharpshooting. His D is intense too.

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