New York Knicks: Who Stepped Up Against Detroit Pistons?

The New York Knicks secured a second consecutive victory with a 105-102 defeat of the Detroit Pistons. Who stepped up at Madison Square Garden?


Nov 16, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas (91) and forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) react after scoring a basket against the Detroit Pistons during first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time this season, the New York Knicks are on a winning streak. Since losing 118-107 to the three-time defending division champion Toronto Raptors, the Knicks have won back-to-back games to pull to 5-6.

This time around, a measure of vengeance was achieved as New York pulled out a 105-102 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

It was a nail-biter in New York, as the Knicks allowed Detroit to climb back into what was shaping up to be a comfortable victory. Behind the heroics of a select few players, however, Jeff Hornacek’s crew held on for the three-point win.

That follows the Knicks’ 93-77 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, which helped New York develop an invaluable sense of confidence.

It wasn’t until the closing moments of the fourth quarter that the Knicks allowed the Pistons to eclipse 100 points. Overall, it was another strong performance on defense by a team that has the personnel to be better than it has been.

The question is: who specifically stepped up for the Knicks during the fifth win of the 2016-17 NBA regular season?

Nov 16, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) drives to the basket against Detroit Pistons forward Jon Leuer (30) during second half at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defeated the Detroit Pistons 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony had a solid first half during which he scored nine points and helped pace the offense. The New York Knicks needed something more explosive in the second half, however, and Anthony delivered.

With his 3-point shooting and unflappable confidence in his scoring instincts, Anthony helped the Knicks pull out this three-point win.

Anthony tallied marks of 22 points, five rebounds, one offensive board, three assists, and a steal in 37 minutes of high-quality play. He shot 9-of-17 from the floor and 4-of-6 from 3-point range, with the latter number playing a massive role in the outcome.

Anthony shot with the confidence and range that’s made him one of the most dynamic scorers in NBA history.

Anthony has been heating up in recent games, which is a promising sign for the development of the Knicks’ offense. He’s placing a stronger emphasis on driving the lane and isn’t hesitating to let the 3-ball fly.

Anthony is one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. The past few games have been a solid display of why that is.

Nov 16, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Justin Holiday (8) drives to the basket against Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson (7) during second half at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defeated the Detroit Pistons 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Holiday

The New York Knicks are attempting to build a reliable second unit that can provide consistent relief to an aging starting lineup. The attempts to do so have been somewhat unrewarding, but there have been promising signs.

One could very easily make the case that backup shooting guard Justin Holiday has been the most reliable reserve in 2016-17.

Holiday finished with a smooth nine points, five rebounds, two offensive rebounds, and one block in 24 minutes of relief. He shot 3-of-7 from the field, 1-of-3 from distance, and 2-of-2 at the free throw line, but his contributions were more about timing than numerical value.

Holiday made a number of key plays during the fourth quarter, including a stretch during which a number of starters went relatively cold.

Holiday has scored at least nine points in three of his past four games, which is a promising sign for the second unit. He’s also stepped up defensively, which has directly resulted in New York improving as a team.

Holiday’s emergence could prove to be one of the key developments of the 2016-17 season for the Knicks’ second unit.

Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA;  New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) dribbles the ball during the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) dribbles the ball during the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Jennings

Statistically speaking, Brandon Jennings had an acceptable game that won’t draw much praise. Beyond the numbers, Jennings came up with a pair of key defensive plays in the fourth quarter that were integral to the New York Knicks achieving victory.

Jennings needs to stop shying away from layups when he drives the lane, but his facilitating touch and defense played a defining role in this win.

Jennings failed to make a single shot, but he recorded seven assists, two rebounds, and a huge steal in 17 minutes. He led all Knicks players in assists and made a number of imperative dimes to put his teammates in scoring position.

For a second unit that’s been struggling to produce, the presence of a player who can pick up the slack as a facilitator is hard to downplay.

Jennings again struggled with his shot—and by that, I mean that he turned down a number of easy attempts to make passes out to the perimeter. It’d simply be impossible to ignore how valuable his clutch heroics were against Detroit.

Jennings can’t keep backing down from scoring opportunities, but his defense and facilitating played a critical role in New York’s victory

Nov 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Knicks center Joakim Noah (13) warms up before a game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Toronto Raptors won 118-107. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah watched from the bench as the New York Knicks dominated the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of a 93-77 victory. That clearly hit home with Noah, who came out with a fire and a passion against the Detroit Pistons.

Noah still has things to work on, namely his jump shot and free throws, but he undoubtedly has a place with the organization.

Noah provided invaluable production with seven points, 15 rebounds, eight offensive rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and one steal in 25 minutes. He shot 3-of-7 from the field and 1-of-6 from the free throw line, which is an undeniable weak spot.

Noah’s energy and tenacity helped define the positive of the Knicks’ performance, however, and it’d be silly to not give him credit for what he provided.

Noah was rolling hard to the basket and working his tail off on the offensive glass. He’s still uncharacteristically inconsistent at the free throw line, but he was less hesitant on basic shot attempts than he had been in the previous 10 games.

If Noah can get back to his career free throw percentage of .708, he’d be the perfect center for the Knicks in 2016-17.

Dec 26, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Knicks forward Kyle O’Quinn (9) prepares for a game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle O’Quinn

Kyle O’Quinn has become the focal point of New York Knicks’ fans’ complaints about the second unit. He certainly brought some of that criticism onto himself with lackluster energy on the defensive end of the floor.

O’Quinn stepped up on Wednesday, however, as his defense was vital to the Knicks’ 105-102 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

O’Quinn recorded exceptional marks of six points, five rebounds, two offensive boards, two assists, three blocks, and a steal in in 15 minutes of play. He shot 2-of-3 from the field and converted a pair of important free throws.

For those who haven’t done the math, O’Quinn’s numbers would translate to 14.4 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.8 offensive boards, 4.8 assists, 7.2 blocks, and 2.4 steals per 36 minutes.

O’Quinn’s tenacity and shot-blocking set a powerful tone for the second unit down low. He was an intimidating force at the rim, an influential facilitator from the high post, and a powerful force on the boards.

With more performances like this, O’Quinn can redefine his reputation and help the Knicks make it back to the playoffs in 2017.

Nov 16, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) dribbles the ball in front of Detroit Pistons forward Jon Leuer (30) during second half at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defeated the Detroit Pistons 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Kristaps Porzingis

If only for a half, New York City belonged to Kristaps Porzingis when the New York Knicks hosted the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden. Between the alley-oop dunk, the multiple turnaround jump shots, the 3-point shooting, and his post game, Porzingis was unstoppable.

If there’s only one reason to walk away from tonight’s game with a smile on your face, it’s the knowledge that Porzingis has limitless potential.

Porzingis finished with a career-high 35 points, seven rebounds, four offensive boards, three assists, one block, and a steal in 40 minutes of play. He shot 13-of-22 from the field, 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe.

Beyond the numbers, Porzingis put his full offensive arsenal on display and reminded Knicks fans again of why he’s one of the most promising players in the NBA.

Porzingis had 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting during his first meeting with the Pistons in 2016-17. He exceeded those scoring and field goals made marks during the first half and proved how mentally strong he is.

If Porzingis truly is the player whom Phil Jackson is building around, then the Knicks are in outstanding hands.

Nov 16, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose (25) shoots the ball over Detroit Pistons defenders during second half at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defeated the Detroit Pistons 105-102. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Rose

The New York Knicks may not get consistency from Derrick Rose as a facilitator, but he’s still one of the better fourth quarter scorers in the NBA. That was evident against Detroit, as he consistently created penetration against a high-quality defense.

Against the Detroit Pistons, Rose continued to score with efficient and provide a positive impact to the Knicks.

Rose played 34 minutes against the Pistons, recording 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a block. He shot 7-of-15 from the field, and while he missed a clutch free throw, he made another that created a three-point lead to prevent the opportunity for a game-winning shot attempt.

Rose finished with a +/- of +2, committed just one turnover, and got Madison Square Garden up on its feet early and often.

Regardless of how you feel about the rest of his performance, Rose scored the Knicks’ final five points. That’s quite significant when one considers the fact that New York only won by three points to begin with.

Rose’s offensive production may not always impress, but his ability to create penetration is one of the primary reasons New York’s offense has begun to flourish.

The Knicks are back on the right track.

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