Written by William Lee
The New York Knicks welcomed the struggling Detroit Pistons to Madison Square Garden Tuesday night. Raymond Felton returned to the starting lineup after a six game absence from a strained groin injury. Kenyon Martin was also inserted into the starting lineup replacing the injured Tyson Chandler. Detroit was missing Rodney Stuckey due to a sore shoulder, which is very fortunate for New York because he was a key reason why Detroit was able to pull out a victory in November when these two teams met early in the season with 21 points and 5 assist in the previous game.
This game would start off ugly, with both teams shooting a dismal from the field in the first half. Both teams struggled, shooting sub .400 in a tied ball game 41-41. The Pistons dominated inside with 30 points in the paint. This is not an aberration since the Detroit Pistons are ranked second in the league in most field goals made within five feet, and within 5-9 feet as well. This is not surprising with the large frontline of Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond. This combination scored 71% of the Pistons’ total offense in the first half. At the half Drummond had 11 points and 8 rebounds, Monroe also helped carry the offense with 12 points. Josh Smith only had 6 points but dominated the glass with 11 rebounds and got his teammates involved with 4 assist.
Carmelo Anthony kept the Knicks in the game with 14 points, and Andrea Bargnani held his own as well against the large frontline of the Pistons with 11 points and 7 rebounds in the first half. Amar’e Stoudemire though struggled, making only one shot on seven attempts against Detroit’s frontline. With the game tied coming out of the half, the Knicks were able to outscore the Pistons by 15 in the third quarter, almost doubling the Pistons’ points in the quarter. In a blink of an eye Knicks were ahead double digits with Carmelo Anthony knocking down three straight threes within a minute span, this would propel the Knicks on a 22-3 run. Detroit was extremely sloppy with the basketball, turning the ball over seven times in the third quarter, and the Knicks took advantage with nine fast break points in the period.
With the Knicks only committing five turnovers through three periods, taking care of the basketball, the game completely reversed in the fourth quarter. The Pistons only turnover once whiles the Knicks committed eight in the quarter. The constant turnovers led to layups and free throws for Detroit, the Pistons went on a 15-4 run to get to as close as three points, making it a one possession game, after New York had been leading by as much as 17 points.
Carmelo Anthony came to the rescue, knocking down his sixth three of the night to push the lead up to six with 2:11 left in the fourth quarter. Josh Smith would answer Anthony’s three, with a three of his own with the score 86-83 with 1:45 remaining in the game. Raymond Felton would be caught over dribbling on consecutive Knicks’ possessions. Brandon Jennings stole the ball from him and then on the next possession lost the ball out of bounds when the defense collapsed on his dribble penetration. Luckily for the Knicks both turnovers resulted in split free throws by Detroit, who are the league’s worst free throw shooting team percentage wise at 66.5%.
Even with the missed opportunities at the charity stripe, New York would give Detroit another chance to win the game when out of a timeout losing only by one, 86-85, Carmelo Anthony charged right into Josh Smith’s chest making a move to the rim. Josh Smith looked to be the hero after making the great defensive stop, taking a shot with the shot clock winding down, only to air-ball it. Raymond Felton was sent to the free throw line, making his first attempt, but missing his second. With a battle on the boards for the rebound, Kenyon Martin was able to tip the ball to Carmelo Anthony, who would seal the game, converting on both his free throws, finishing the game with 34 points to give New York an 89-85 victory over Detroit.