The New York Knicks fell to 1-2 after dropping a 102-89 road game to the Detroti Pistons. What good transpired during the second loss of the season?
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Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) before the game against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Through just three games, fans have been given the full New York Knicks experience. New York defended home turf with a 111-104 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies and lost by 29 points in the first road game of the season.
Though it was an improvement over what transpired in the regular season opener, the Knicks fell 102-89 to the Detroit Pistons in the second road game of the season.
The Knicks played the Pistons well, but ultimately failed to secure the victory over a postseason-caliber opponent. Tobias Harris led Detroit with 25 points and 10 rebounds, and Marcus Morris added 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 19 points and Andre Drummond pulled down 13 rebounds for the victorious Pistons.
Though the Pistons may have won by 13 points, there were a number of positive takeaways to be made for the Knicks. New York played rather well at certain points of the game, with a number of key players stepping up in a major way.
The question is: what good transpired during the Knicks’ 102-89 loss to the Pistons?
Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee (5) talks with forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
5. Fourth Quarter Defense
Through three quarters, the New York Knicks’ defense was nothing short of embarrassing. It struggled to contain the Detroit Pistons in every sense of the word, with Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris scoring at virtual will.
The encouraging news for the Knicks is that, after allowing 86 points through three quarters, they held Detroit to 16 points in the fourth.
Some of the Knicks’ success on defense can be chalked up to Detroit’s fatigue during the fourth quarter. Having said that, New York defended at a high enough level to give itself a chance to secure the victory.
Scoring 10 fourth quarter points certainly didn’t help, but it was nice to see what the defense is capable of when the effort if there.
The Knicks played with a defining lack of energy and intensity against the Pistons. The lack of effort was beyond disappointing; it was something that the fan base was right to criticize the entire team for.
If the fourth quarter is a sign of things to come, however, then the Knicks’ defense could soon improve.
Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) drives to the basket as Detroit Pistons guard Ish Smith (14) and guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) defend during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
4. Kristaps Porzingis Is Heating Up
Kristaps Porzingis has gotten off to a quality start to the 2016-17 NBA regular season. He posted 16 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and poured in 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting against the Memphis Grizzlies.
After struggling throughout the first half against the Detroit Pistons, Porzingis established just how dominant he could be with his performance in the third quarter.
As New York’s offense started to go cold, Porzingis stepped up with 12 points in the third quarter. He worked well without the ball, converted a pair of 3-point field goals, went to the post, and shot with the confidence of a star.
If Porzingis can ever become that confident in his shot for full seasons at a time, then the Knicks would have a genuine franchise player on their hands.
Porzingis has the size, athleticism, coordination, and skill set to be one of the most dominant players in the NBA. He still needs to learn to embrace the massive size advantage he has, however, as no one in the Association can physically check him.
During the third quarter, Porzingis began to show an understanding of the physical edge that he holds over his competition.
Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks center Joakim Noah (13) drives to the basket as Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) defends during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
3. Joakim Noah’s Role Defined
Over the past two games, Joakim Noah has firmly established how valuable he is to the New York Knicks. On both ends of the floor, Noah has become one of the Knicks’ most consistent performers and the undeniable stabilizing force.
Against the Detroit Pistons, Noah continued to establish himself with yet another strong performance againt a quality foe.
Noah scored just two points in 31 minutes, which actually speaks to his abiliity to influence a game without scoring. He recorded 12 rebounds, five offensive boards, eight assists, and two blocks in yet another extraordinary all-around effort.
Noah led the Knicks in rebounds, offensive rebounds, and assists for the second consecutive game—both a positive and a negative trend.
Noah’s ability to crash the boards has never wavered, as his display against Andre Drummond would display. He’s also one of the best passing big men in the NBA—something the Knicks are clearly banking on.
It may not always be a good thing to have one’s center being their leading assist man, but Noah has been one of the shining bright spots in 2016-17.
Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the first quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
2. Carmelo Anthony’s Confidence
The New York Knicks are depending on Carmelo Anthony being able to put points on the board with consistency and regularity. His development as an all-around player is encouraging, but his signature skill is still his scoring.
Though he went cold in the fourth quarter, there’s no way around how promising his performance was against Detroit.
Anthony finished with 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting from the field, 2-of-6 shooting from 3-point range, and 6-of-7 shooting from the free throw line. He converted well from all over the floor and displayed tremendous confidence in his jump shot.
Anthony needs to be more willing to attack the basket, but his jump shot remains one of the most lethal forces in NBA history.
Anthony did an excellent job of drawing contact and getting to the line. He struggled to do so throughout the 2016-17 NBA regular season, which is why Knicks fans were so excited to see him get foul calls at Detroit.
It didn’t end in the ideal manner, but the way it started was a sign that one of the greatest scorers of all-time is confident in his shot again.
Nov 1, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) goes to the basket against Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) and guard Ish Smith (14) during the first quarter at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
1. Derrick Rose’s Athleticism
The New York Knicks are depending on Derrick Rose to help lead the offense from the point guard position. He’s struggled to contribute as a facilitator, but through three games, the story is much bigger than assist numbers.
After five years of leg-related injuries, Rose has come back with the same explosive burst in his step that made him an MVP in 2010-11.
Rose may never get his leaping ability back, but he’s one of the fastest and most agile players in the NBA. His end-to-end speed has overwhelmed all three teams he’s played against thus far, and his quickness in being able to turn the corner is uncanny.
Though he can’t dunk like he used to be able to, Rose still has the ability to glide through the air, hang with the ball in his hands, and finish in traffic.
Rose finished the Pistons game with a season-high 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field. He added five rebounds, two assists, and his third block of the season, thus boosting his averages to 16.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.0 block through three games.
Rose needs to step up as a facilitator, but at this point in the season, his physical ability is more important than any statistics may be.