The New York Knicks swarmed Andre Drummond to key a December win over the Detroit Pistons, but haven't shown signs of being able to replicate that effort recently.
The slumping Knicks will try to tighten things up as they try to avoid their fifth straight road loss Thursday night against a Detroit team that will likely be without Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who owns the second-longest active games played streak.
Drummond leads the league with 15.0 rebounds per game and is a big reason why the Pistons (26-24) pace all teams with an average of 15.8 second-chance points and rank among the leaders with 44.7 paint points and a plus-4.0 rebounding margin.
New York's game plan was obvious the first time it faced Drummond this season after he had averaged 17.2 rebounds over the previous six meetings. The club threw multiple bodies at the All-Star, holding him to just nine boards while outscoring Detroit 46-36 in the paint en route to a 108-96 victory Dec. 29 at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks are struggling heading into this meeting, losing eight of their last 11 games. They've also allowed 107.7 points per game in their past 12 after they were outscored 58-28 in the paint despite owning a 50-45 edge on the boards in Tuesday's 97-89 home loss to Boston.
"Defensively, we've slipped as a team," said guard Arron Afflalo, who had 18 points and four of the team's 17 turnovers. "It's not even worth taking about - we just have to improve. We have to improve defensively because offensively we have the talent. The frustrating part is that we're not getting the stops when we need them in the fourth quarter."
Making matters worse, New York is also scuffling offensively with 96.1 points per game on 40.7 percent shooting over a 1-6 stretch. The Knicks have averaged 94.2 while dropping 14 of 18 on the road.
Leading scorers Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis totaled just 26 points on 8-of-27 shooting Tuesday. Robin Lopez, who had six blocks in the first meeting with Detroit, was a bright spot with 17 points and a season high-tying 13 rebounds against the Celtics.
The Knicks (23-28) had a 54.4 field-goal percentage in December and could get more open looks against a Detroit team that has given up 106.8 points during a 1-3 stretch.
The Pistons shot 37.6 percent and couldn't dig out of a 24-point hole in Wednesday's 102-95 loss at Boston. Reggie Jackson had 17 points and Drummond added 16 with 13 boards.
"It doesn't matter who's scoring," guard Brandon Jennings told the team's official website. "We just need to get the win. That's the most important thing - and play hard every night."
Caldwell-Pope's run of 208 consecutive games played is in jeopardy after he suffered a groin injury. Stanley Johnson, who had 11 points and nine rebounds, will likely move into the lineup after coach Stan Van Gundy said Caldwell-Pope will ''almost certainly be out."
New York could get point guard Jose Calderon back from a four-game absence due to a groin injury.
Anthony had 24 points, six rebounds and six assists in the last meeting, but he hasn't played at Detroit since scoring 13 on 5-of-21 shooting in a 98-95 loss on Nov. 5, 2014.
The Knicks had lost five of the past seven meetings before winning in December.