It was late afternoon in New York, but it was night in England as the Knicks faced the Detroit Pistons and came away with a relatively easy win, 102-87. The game was Knicks' point guard Iman Shumpert's first game since he tore his ACL last April in the playoffs against the Miami Heat.
Officially, the Knicks were designated the away team, but the Knicks could be pardoned for feeling that the game in the O2 Arena in London was a home game with the Knicks jerseys sprinkled throughout the packed house and the “MVP” cheers for Carmelo Anthony.
Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince scored the first two points of the game on two free throws. The Knicks then reeled off 16 straight points, including two three-pointers by Carmelo Anthony. Jason Maxiell scored the first field goal for the Pistons after nearly five minutes had elapsed in the first quarter.
Detroit got into the flow of the game from that point, but the quarter ended with the Knicks holding a 12-point lead, 29-17, on 61 per cent shooting and 62.5 per cent shooting on threes. The Piston’s shot 40 per cent from the field and shot no three-pointers. New York had 13 rebounds to just three for Detroit.
Detroit’s Austin Day committed a flagrant foul on Tyson Chandler with 6:50 left in the second quarter, as the Knicks’ center drove to the basket. Chandler went down hard, but he got up, made both of his free throws and continued in the game. The Knicks led by as many as 20 points in the second quarter and ended the half with a 15-point lead, 56-41. Anthony led all scorers with 18 points, Amare Stoudemire added 12, and J.R. Smith chipped in ten. Andre Drummond was the Pistons’ high scorer with nine points.
Detroit pulled down 11 rebounds in the second quarter, but the Knicks led the Pistons, 23-14 in rebounding at halftime. New York’s shooting cooled down to 50 per cent at the half, while Detroit’s pace only slightly picked up at 41.7 per cent on field goals. The Pistons outscored the Knicks in the paint, 22-14, but the Knicks were better on the fast break, 9-2. The Knicks were six for 14 on three-point shots and the Pistons were one for seven.
In the second half, Detroit continued to dominate in the paint and knocked New York’s lead back to five points in the third quarter. The Knicks’ shots didn’t fall as they did in the first half and their shooting percentage dropped to a still strong 48 per cent for the game. Despite being double and triple-teamed, Anthony elevated his game total to 23 points as the Knicks closed out the third quarter with two consecutive scores and a 12-point lead, 75-63. The Pistons continued to languish at a 42 per cent shooting pace.
Will Bynam came off the Pistons’ bench and scored a quick seven points in the middle of the fourth quarter to narrow the New York lead to eight points. J.R. Smith responded with two free throws and a jumper to push the Knicks’ lead back to 12 points. A little over a minute later the Knicks’ lead was back up to 17 points after a Chandler dunk and a Steve Novak three-pointer. From this point on, the Knicks cruised to the win.
Anthony was the game’s leading scorer with 26 points. The Knicks also got 17 points from Stoudemire, 16 from J.R. Smith, and 13 from Steve Novak. Bynam led the Pistons with 22 points, followed by 15 points from Kyle Singler, 12 from Prince, and 11 each by Drummond and Greg Monroe. The inside game worked well for the Pistons; they outscored the Knicks in the paint, 44-22. The Knicks difference was in three-point shots, 33-18, and at the free throw line, 25-11.
The Knicks have struggled since point guard Raymond Felton was sidelined in December with a broken, but in Thursday’s game, second year point guard Iman Shumpert started and played a total of 15 minutes. Coach Mike Woodson said he would play Shumpert in three to four minute bursts; however, the point guard played the first four and a half minutes of the game and over five minutes in the second quarter.
Shumpert started the second half and played more than five minutes in the third quarter. In three quarters of play, Shumpert scored eight points, and he sat the entire fourth quarter.