When I turned on my Xbox to watch tonight’s game, I clicked on the “Knicks at Pistons” option. It gave me the Miami-Orlando game. I figured it was a sign: the Basketball Gods didn’t want me to watch the Pistons tonight.
As Life on Dumars is not a Heat or Magic site, though, I ignored the Basketball Gods and pulled the game up on my laptop.
This apparently made them angry. Very angry.
My broadcast was a laggy mess, freezing every two seconds and generally turning my viewing experience into a kind of slideshow of players running in transition between possessions. Each team’s plays were generally just a figment of my imagination, as League Pass would freeze for a second, and then the ball would be on the other side of the court.
It was either a bad broadcast, or Jose Calderon’s notorious time-travel skills. It’s difficult to say for sure.
All this is to say, this recap is going to suck. Blame League Pass Broadband.
It was a very back-and-forth affair the whole way through tonight, as a huge Detroit run to open the third quarter led to both teams trading blows for most of the second half. The Pistons struggled to contain Raymond Felton, who scored 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, and Amar’e Stoudemire, who scored 22 on 8-of-12 and added nine rebounds. JR Smith was remarkably inefficient, scoring 20 points on 22 shots (7-of-22 from the field, 4-of-11 from behind the arc). Steve Novak, Pablo Prigioni, and Jason Kidd combined to score six points on 15 shots, all of which were threes.
The Knicks were missing Carmelo Anthony, who sat with a knee injury, and the Pistons were short big men Greg Monroe (ankle) and Charlie Villanueva (hamstring), as well as head coach Lawrence Frank (personal issue). Andre Drummond remained out with the fractured vertebrae that has held him out of the lineup since early February.
Stoudemire continued a string of strong performances against the Pistons this season. He shot 11-of-12 from the free throw line en route to a 17-point performance in the teams’ January 17 meeting, and scored 20 on 8-of-14 shooting when the teams met again on February 4. He did not play in the season’s first matchup.
It was a generally sloppy performance from both sides tonight, as they coughed up 20 turnovers apiece. The Knicks shot only 41.7% from the field, and the Pistons responded with a 43.2% mark of their own. Jose Calderon scored 10 points and dished 16 assists, including a couple nice feeds to (starting center) Jason Maxiell. Speaking of Maxiell, he was shockingly active tonight, scoring 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting and grabbing nine boards. All five Pistons starters scored in double digits, but the bench managed only 11 points – including Rodney Stuckey’s second straight game without a made basket.
It felt like a winnable game for the Pistons with Anthony out, but the Pistons’ own injuries appeared to be too much to overcome. Neither team played particularly well, but the Pistons had no answer for the Felton-Stoudemire duo. The big third quarter Pistons run, which peaked with them leading 65-55, had Detroit looking good late in the third quarter, but the Pistons went scoreless from the 02:44 mark in the third quarter to the 08:11 mark in the fourth to allow the Knicks to retain the lead.
Ultimately, the Pistons had a chance to steal a game from a playoff team at home, but injuries and general offensive ineptitude were too much to overcome. The Knicks concluded a season sweep of the Pistons, finishing 4-0. With Mavericks, Clippers, Jazz, and Warriors up next on the schedule, the question for Detroit becomes: is it time to tank?
All I know is, I probably should have listened to the Basketball Gods. Maybe next time.