NEW YORK — The Detroit Pistons answered questions about whether they could find a capable replacement for Andre Drummond in their frontcourt.
The New York Knicks answered inquiries about whether they can defend.
Now comes the follow-up for both teams.
Article continues below ...
Drummond may be out with a sprained right ankle Wednesday when the Pistons visit the Knicks, who are coming off their best defensive showing of the young season.
Drummond missed his first game due to injury since March 19, 2014. He had an MRI, which revealed no structural damage, and did not practice Tuesday. The injury is not serious and if he does not play in New York, Drummond will likely return Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Without the league's leading rebounder, the Pistons recorded a 104-88 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night. Drummond's absence was compensated for by Aron Baynes finishing with 20 points (one shy of his career high) and eight rebounds.
“I put it back on everyone else. Everything they got me, I was in great position,” Baynes said. “All the way through the team, they got me great looks and I just had to finish. On a couple of them, I didn't, so I still have some work to do.”
Technically Baynes' comments are accurate since seven of his eight baskets were within 6 feet of the rim.
“He's a starting center in the NBA. He's just playing behind an All-Star,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “You look around at all the starting centers and Aron's a starting-caliber center in the league, so it's not surprising he played as well as he did.”
Now comes a chance for Detroit to play well on the road. While the Pistons are 5-0 at home and each win has been by double-digits, the road has been a significant different story.
“Our defense at home has been great,” Van Gundy said. “I'm not quite sure why we haven't been able to duplicate that on the road yet, but we're locked in at home.”
Detroit was 0-5 on the road before taking a 15-point lead through the first quarter of Saturday's 106-95 road win against the Denver Nuggets. During their first six road games, the Pistons have allowed 105 points per game while averaging 94.3 points.
In their seventh road game, Detroit will encounter a team that gave up less than 100 points for the second time this season. The Knicks are 4-6 after getting a 93-77 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Monday night.
A week after naming former interim head coach and current assistant Kurt Rambis as “defensive coordinator,” the Knicks held a team under 80 points for the first time since April 11, 2015, at Orlando and the first time at home since Dec 11, 2013, against the Chicago Bulls.
Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony had 24 points apiece and the Knicks took control over the final eight-plus minutes of the third quarter. During the second half Joakim Noah watched from the bench as coach Jeff Hornacek moved Porzingis to center while using Justin Holiday extensively at small forward.
“I got to figure out ways to be effective on that end of the floor,” Noah said.
Noah had six rebounds and was scoreless in 16 minutes. Noah has reached double-figures once and has been held scoreless twice, but any changes in the starting lineup are not occurring based on one half of Porzingis playing center and Anthony playing power forward.
“I don't think so. Noah does a nice job in there defensively,” Hornacek said. “It may depend on the team (we're playing). Maybe we can go there (small) a little bit more often. But we're not, just because we were good in the second half doesn't mean we're going to change it.”
The move worked as Porzingis exploited his height advantage on Andrew Bogut while the Knicks gave up a season-low 26 points in the paint.
“I'll keep playing the four if they play me at the four,” Porzingis said. “And if I'm at the five, I'll try to be as productive as I can at the five.”
Detroit took the first meeting with the Knicks when Tobias Harris scored 25 points in a 102-89 home win on Nov. 1. Drummond had nine points and 13 rebounds but has eight career double-doubles against New York.
The Knicks have won 11 of the last 13 meetings at home.