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Knicks 109, Pistons 95: ‘Just when I thought the Knicks were finally doing something right’

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They won. It is what it is.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at New York Knicks Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

"Droll thing life is — that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself — that comes too late — a crop of unextinguishable regrets."

— Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

It is far too late in the season for the 2016-17 Knicks to learn lessons about themselves, to truly explain the sudden appearance of true team basketball that led to the very thorough destruction of the Detroit Pistons on Monday night. Why were they suddenly passing the rock like the Spurs (26 team assists)? Why were they suddenly shutting down dribble penetration and expertly lurking in passing lanes (13 steals)? As Knicks legend Rasheed Wallace once said, even the sun shines on a dog’s ass once and awhile.

Still, this game was a rather pleasant viewing experience. Kristaps Porzingis got off to a blistering start, dropping 15 points in the first quarter. The Knicks still trailed after one, though, because they’re cool like that. The game turned in the second quarter, when an unusual quartet of Ron Baker, Justin Holiday, Carmelo Anthony and Mindaugas Kuzminskas starting ripping the ball away from Pistons guards every freakin’ possession. Combine that with a vintage Melo hot streak and you get a lead that the Knicks would not relinquish.

By the third quarter the Pistons had just flat-out quit. They went the first 7:10 of the period without a bucket as the Knicks stretched their lead to 20. It was the first time New York had led by that much at any point in any game since December 4th. Sweet Christmas! How can even the most noble tank job compete with that kind of incompetence? My hat’s off to you, Pistons. I’m glad the Knicks don’t play you again.

Notes:

— The Twin Towers of Europe put on a show. Kristaps Porzingis (25 points on 10-16 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks) and Willy Hernangomez (15 points on 6-9 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) carved up the supposedly formidable Detroit frontcourt. If it weren’t for the poor rebounding, this would be the platonic ideal of the Willstaps Porgomez duo — ruthlessly efficient offense to overwhelm smaller frontcourts. Kristaps didn’t really get it going from three (1-4), but he was so damned effective from mid-range that it didn’t really matter. As for Willy, the Knicks have suddenly realized that he is deadly in the pick-and-roll and have taken steps to feed him on the regular. Last game it was Courtney Lee, Monday night it was Derrick Rose and a little bit of Melo. Seriously, Melo and Willy work so well together.

— There are several seemingly random groups of Knicks bench players who get Melo to play more active defense, like the pairing of Ron Baker and Justin Holiday, for example. They just have a better understanding of when to switch, I think. You need a real psychic connection to even attempt the kind of switch-happy defense the Knicks play, and those three seem to have it.

— Derrick Rose is now averaging 19.8 points per game on 51.1% shooting in March. He recently said winning is the most important thing to him — if that’s true, he could end up being a Sixth Man of the Year candidate for a contender next season, in the mold of Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford. I obviously don’t want him on the Knicks next season, but it’ll be interesting to see which teams show interest in him. He definitely has a role on a good NBA team.

— 35 minutes for Melo, 37 minutes for Kristaps, 32 minutes apiece for Rose and Lee. C’mon, Jeff Hornacek, this is getting ridiculous.

Fortunately, there may finally be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Is he bullshitting us with these comments? Who the hell knows? You’ve won your 1 game now, Horny...please start playing the kids. The Knicks could end up falling all the way to ninth in the draft. It’s terrifying. As P&T’er Read React lamented, just when we dared to believe this team could tank properly, they annihilate some punk squad.

The Knicks have a golden opportunity to get the tank back on track Wednesday and Friday with two games against the red-hot Miami Heat. Get your shit together, guys. This is no time to start playing actual basketball.

P.S. Apropos of nothing...Marshall Plumlee!