New York Knicks vs. Detroit Pistons: Postgame Grades and Analysis for New York
On Thursday night (or afternoon for those back in the U.S.), the Knicks got the victory, 102-87.
It was a cracking game, and the Knicks were really ace. Their offense looked absolutely brill at times. Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire had clearly been eating their steak-and-kidney pie, and Will Bynum's play off the bench for Detroit was more delicious than a Yorkshire pudding.
Okay, that's enough of the Brit speak.
Unfortunately for the Pistons, this counted as a home game for them. And why not? England is only 3,750 miles from Michigan.
Detroit trailed by as much as 18 points early in the third quarter, but they trimmed the deficit to just four points only five minutes later. It was an exciting game, but the Knicks had too much quality for the Pistons to overcome.
The Knicks came into the contest just a game out of first place in the East, but they had dropped six of their last 10 games. They are ailing without Raymond Felton and Marcus Camby. Rasheed Wallace could also be done for the year (per Ian Begley of ESPN New York).
But they welcomed back their sensational shooting guard, Iman Shumpert, for the first time this season, and they are delighted to have more depth in their backcourt as well as his lockdown defense.
The Pistons came into the game with a 14-24 record and tied with the Orlando Magic for 10th place in the East. They play pretty good defense, but they lack a top-notch scorer. They have some nice players, especially Greg Monroe, but they are still learning how to play together.
Detroit is just 4-14 away from the Palace of Auburn Hills, and it's hard to get much further away from there than England.
Thursday night, the Pistons looked jet lagged and they couldn't handle the Knicks aside from one run in the third quarter. Let's fill out the Knicks' report cards for this one.
Jason Kidd, PG: C+
Oddly, Kidd was whistled for two traveling violations in the first six minutes of the game. Through three quarters, he had only three points on one long ball and was 1-of-4 shooting.
Kidd took better care of the ball as the game went on, and he contributed his usual numbers across the stat sheet. He finished with five points, six rebounds, four dimes and three steals in just over 27 minutes, but the three turnovers were out of character for him.
The Pistons started a big lineup with Brandon Knight as the only guard. He wasn't very effective, scoring only one point in the game.
However, Will Bynum came off the bench to go for 22 in a sensational effort. Rodney Stuckey also got in on the action, but Lawrence Frank was probably hoping for more than six points from him.
Kidd's defense was good and he played well down the stretch in the fourth.
Iman Shumpert, SG: B
The Knicks are delighted to welcome Shumpert back for the first time this season. He has made the long recovery from reconstructive knee surgery after going down in the first game of the playoffs against the Miami Heat.
Shumpert provides the Knicks with some much-needed depth in the backcourt, especially with Raymond Felton out for at least another week and Ronnie Brewer struggling (he hasn't scored in double-digits since November 30).
Shumpert began his night playing some solid defense on Tayshaun Prince. Then, three-and-a-half minutes into the game, Shump got a wide-open look and drained a corner three. One would have to think that Shumpert had been dreaming of his first bucket since he went down.
Shumpert finished with eight points, adding two boards, a steal, an assist and a block in just under 15 minutes. But the most encouraging part was his explosiveness. He converted a nice layup off a fast break, crossing up his defender with a nifty Euro step and finishing across his body.
He also missed a huge baseline dunk that was a little overambitious, but it showed that he was fearless and aggressive. It looks like the knee is back to full health, and his performance was a great sign for the Knicks.
Chris Copeland, SF: C
Copeland started the game, but he wasn't much of a factor. He had seven points on 3-of-6 shooting (including a three-pointer in garbage time) and two boards.
He showed some adequate defense, but he lacks the size to help on the inside against players like Greg Monroe or Andre Drummond. He helped hold down Jason Maxiell (two points), but Kyle Singler looked strong, dropping 15.
Copeland is capable of pouring in points when he's on, but he didn't have the stroke in this game. He's a true swingman with good athleticism, but he was mainly relegated to driving and dishing in this one.
Carmelo Anthony, SF: B
Carmelo was easily the most renowned player on the court and the Londoners gave him a warm welcome. After all, he had delighted British basketball fans with his hot shooting at the 2012 Olympic Games.
And Anthony started hot against the Pistons, draining three threes on his way to 11 points in the first quarter.
Carmelo cooled off somewhat in the second half and threw up some errant shots, but he was still the star of the game (at least in terms of fan recognition). Detroit also sent more double teams his way in the third and fourth quarters.
Melo finished with 26 on 8-of-19 shooting, as well as three boards and four dimes. He added a couple of blocks as well, but his five turnovers are unacceptable. We'll blame it on the jet lag.
Tyson Chandler, C: B+
Chandler returned to the place where he won his gold medal, and promptly gave the Knicks their first points with a dunk on a nice pass from his Olympic teammate, Carmelo Anthony. The crowd cheered like Andy Murray had just served up an ace.
While those were Chandler's only points in the first quarter, he pulled down seven rebounds and blocked a shot in the first 12 minutes, much to the chagrin of Pistons center Greg Monroe, who was held to just 4-of-12 shooting on the night.
In the second quarter, Chandler took the pass on a fast break and got pulled down by Austin Daye. He hit the court very hard, and Knicks fans in half a dozen time zones collectively held their breath. But Chandler stayed in the game following the flagrant-1, which easily could have been a flagrant-2.
Losing Chandler would have been a devastating blow to the Knicks, especially with Marcus Camby out and Rasheed Wallace questionable to ever play in the NBA again.
But Chandler's interior presence drove the Knicks to a dominating performance on the glass. They outrebounded Detroit 23-14 in the first half and 44-36 for the game.
Chandler finished with a double-double, including 14 rebounds, even though Walt Frazier stated on the MSG broadcast that he didn't think Chandler should get credited with a rebound for batting out a missed shot.
Well, those are the rules, Clyde, and it's become one of Tyson's signature moves.
J.R. Smith, SG: B
Smith was typical J.R., coming in to relieve Iman Shumpert (who played in five minute bursts). He dropped 10 first-half points to go with four rebounds and two steals.
He was just 1-of-6 from downtown and 6-of-15 from the field, but he still scored 16 on the night. He also added six rebounds, four assists and three steals, but committed four turnovers as well. Jet lag strikes again.
His energy and active hands on defense helped hold down the Pistons' backcourt (except for Will Bynum). Smith also saw more looks once Detroit began double-teaming Carmelo Anthony in the second half.
Mike Woodson seems intent on not starting Smith, but he typically inserts him into the game at the earliest opportunity. The backcourt will become somewhat crowded once Raymond Felton returns, especially now with Shumpert back, but that is one of those good problems.
I'm sure someone will volunteer to play small forward and it will also provide some important scoring on the second unit.
Rest of the Bench
Rest of the Bench: B+
Amar'e Stoudemire briefly addressed the crowd at O2 Arena just before the game to thank them for the support. His words went over better than Tayshaun Prince's, as the Piston's microphone cut out after about 10 seconds.
Amar'e looked sharp in the first half, scoring 12 points. But with Chandler getting a rest, Stoudemire got dominated by Andre Drummond. In the first half, the rookie had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, plus five boards and two blocks in under 10 minutes.
Stoudemire also picked up his fifth foul with over eight minutes left in the game, even though he had played only 20 minutes. This speaks to the inside prowess of Drummond and Greg Monroe.
STAT did finish with 17 points (including 11-of-12 from the line) and he really seems to be getting his legs back under him. He was attacking the basket and drawing contact, which is exactly what the Knicks need from him.
He's also got someone teaching him defense now, so he could really come on strong in the second half of the season.
Pablo Prigioni played a fair amount (20:35), but he wasn't much of a factor, not attempting a shot on the night and adding just two assists along with a steal and four boards.
Ronnie Brewer played a handful of minutes and accumulated no stats, missing the only shot he took (which was not pretty). His struggles continue and he will see even less playing time with Shumpert returning.
Steve Novak wasn't much of a factor until the fourth quarter, although he did drain a nice shot off the dribble in the first half. In the fourth, Novak nailed three triples and helped put the game out of reach. He finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
It was a nice performance by the Knicks who handled the Pistons easily again. They will need to take better care of the ball (they had 16 turnovers on the evening), but they will be glad to return to American soil.
They're still nipping at the heels of the Miami Heat, and with Shumpert back and Stoudemire improving everyday, they should keep stacking up the wins.
Note: all statistics accurate as of January 17, 2013.