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Pistons 111, Knicks 107: “Probably KP is good.”

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What’s the opposite of a fake comeback?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at New York Knicks Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night’s loss to the Detroit Pistons somehow managed to creep up on me. Despite the New York Knicks employing an unlikely medley of Gen Z players, the ease by which they crumbled in the second half still came by surprise. I can’t quite tell if I’m overly optimistic or just plain stupid. Then again, I haven’t missed a game since I was a wee lad of 8 years. Do with that what you will.

Early in the game, Kristaps Porzingis posted and toasted against any smaller guy Detroit pitted against him. I loved the team throwing the ball to KP down low every time he was matched against Stanley Johnson; something the Knicks haven’t tried the past two years, because Porzingis wasn’t strong or confident enough. Then again, maybe he wasn’t strong/confident because he wasn’t given the chance. Which came first, the Unicorn or the egg? Either way, gone are the days of Smarticus Blarts bullying our Unicorn in the paint.

Speaking of paint, Enes Kanter fought hard with Andre Drummond all night, grabbing every offensive board in sight and boxing out when he couldn’t. 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Turkish big fella, shooting 70% from the field. Riding a hot start by Porzingis, Kanter, and O’Quinn, the Knicks saw themselves up by 21 late in the first half.

However, I believe it was the Knicks that defined the age-old physics phrase: What goes up, must also come down. Just when I was getting moist watching our guys fly around the court with tough defense and quick-cutting offense, Detroit coach (and European mafia stunt double) Stan Van Gundy made a substitution to end all hope of an easy win. Anthony freakin’ Tolliver man-handled Kristaps on defense while draining every momentum-killing three. The lead was soon cut to four and, despite the Knicks heading to the line multiple times, seven third quarter turnovers gave the Pistons the keys to drive this game back to Michigan.

If the third quarter belonged to Anthony Tolliver (9 points from 3 of 7 three pointers), the fourth belonged to Tobias Harris. Harris went on to post 31 points and 6 rebounds on 13/24 shooting. Despite being only 25, Tobias scored like a veteran from all areas of the court, shooting from behind the line, spinning in the paint, and getting to the line.

Ultimately, the Knicks couldn’t claw themselves back into the game and lost to an undeserving Pistons team. To the notes!

But first:

Your Knick of the Night: Kristaps Porzingis. 33/5/2/1 for the Latvian star. Porzingis has looked super strong so far this year and, quite honestly, I’m scared. The league should be, too.

Your Dick Dud of the Night: Tim Hardaway Jr. The man couldn’t buy a basket today. He couldn’t buy a vowel either, only a consonant: L. Don’t let the 14 points fool you, he shot 4 of 16.

Notes:

  • Coach Hornacek got lucky today by not having to make any decisions regarding an injured Frank Ntilikina. BUT WHY YOU NO LIKE WILLY, JEFF?! Cue the Willy-Kanter comment war.
  • No Clyde again in this game. I was ready to make a joke about him escaping this losing season, but soon learned he was tending to his hurricane-ravaged home in St. Croix. Best of wishes to your house, Clyde!
  • Here’s a beacon of hope: the Knicks tallied only 12 turnovers tonight. Compared to Thursday night’s 25, I’ll take that any day from a young squad. 20 assists too for the young’uns.
  • Strong showing tonight from KOQ on both ends of the court, making twisting layups and bodying up with guys. He actually got a standing ovation with 7:33 left in the second quarter.
  • With 4:33 left in the second quarter, Courtney Lee committed a light foul on Bradley. The camera panned to Hornacek just in time to catch him mouthing, “if you’re going to foul him, foul him” (emphasis mine). I like.
  • I fully expect Hardaway to find his shot again in the next couple of games. For the sake of the 50% of New York fans on the verge of heart palpitations, I hope he plays beyond his contract this season.

Not much more to say about this game, guys. The Knicks led most of the game, just to crumble in the final minutes at the hands of Anthony Tolliver. What’s the opposite of a fake comeback? Whatever it is, it hurts the same. Always remember that in the end, as our man xobserverx noted, probably KP is good. The next game is on Tuesday at Boston. Bring your clench-iest fists and I’ll bring my Paul Pierce dartboard.