Detroit — Despite an off night from the field, Reggie Jackson was big down the stretch as the Pistons grinded out a 104-101 win over the New York Knicks on Friday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Jackson (10 points, eight assists) scored seven of the Pistons' final 10 points in crunch time, getting into the lane and to the foul line as the Pistons erased a four-point deficit in the final minute.
Though Jackson finished just 3-for-12 from the floor, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy noted that his point guard shined when it mattered most.
“(He) made plays,” Van Gundy said. “(He) stepped up. It was a little bit of a struggle, but then down the stretch he finished it up.”
Kristaps Porzingis scored a game-high 29 points, but with his team trailing by a point with less than 20 seconds remaining, the Knicks went to Courtney Lee, who was smothered and rejected by Reggie Bullock as he went to the basket. Stanley Johnson hit two free throws on the other end to put the Pistons up by three. Facing pressure from Bullock on the final possession, Porzingis missed a heave at the buzzer that allowed the Pistons to escape with the win.
“In that fourth quarter (Bullock) did a really good job of getting up into (people) and making them uncomfortable,” Andre Drummond said. “When he plays like that, it makes us very tough to score on.”
Porzingis, who grabbed nine rebounds to go with his scoring outburst, wasn’t as efficient as his numbers might suggest. Anthony Tolliver stayed with the man known as “The Unicorn” all night, and Porzingis finished 12-for-28 from the field.
“He’s going to get his points no matter what,” Tolliver said. “For me, it’s just about making it tough on him, being really physical without fouling, denying him the ball. It took a lot of energy to play that side of the ball. My shots didn’t fall, but at the end of the day, we got the win and that’s all that matters.”
Tobias Harris scored a team-high 24 for the Pistons (18-14), who built an eight-point lead to start the fourth quarter before the Knicks answered with a 14-2 run.
Big New York runs prevented the Pistons from running away with the game on a couple of occasions.
In the third, after the Pistons took a 68-57 lead on a Harris 3-pointer, the Knicks answered with an 18-2 run.
Enes Kanter (22 points, 16 rebounds) was particularly dominant during that stretch for New York, getting offensive rebounds and finishing at the rim as the Knicks took a 75-74 lead entering the fourth.
“Kanter really destroyed us on the glass,” Van Gundy said. “(He) was very physical inside. We didn’t do a good job on the boards. We got outrebounded by seven and that shouldn’t happen.”
The Pistons were outrebounded 51-44, but despite New York’s considerable advantage on the interior, they did hold their own in corralling 15 offensive boards in what was a physical game from the opening tip.
Drummond (18 points, 15 rebounds) gave the Pistons just seven minutes in the first half, while Jackson and Ish Smith went a combined 2-for-13 from the field. Still, the Pistons were able to build a 52-44 lead at the break, led by 10 points each from Harris and Tolliver.
Drummond was effective to the tune of eight points and seven rebounds in just seven first half minutes, but foul trouble kept him on the bench.
Pistons step up the effort
The Pistons were coming off a 17-point loss in Dallas on Wednesday night that once again had some questioning the effort they put forward on a nightly basis.
Despite surrendering a couple of double-digit leads on Friday, the Pistons were pleased with how they attacked and responded to adversity.
“I thought our effort was good,” Van Gundy said. “We’ve really got to take a look at our third-quarter defense. We’re coming out early and defending, but the second half we’re just not getting it done.”
The Pistons are 7-2 since Bullock entered the starting lineup. With Tolliver earning his third start of the season against the Knicks, the 32-year-old journeyman thinks it’s no mistake that the pairing of himself and Bullock led to an uptick in the team’s overall effort.
“Things have gone decent with us in the starting lineup,” Tolliver said. “Whether it be hitting shots, playing defense, diving on loose balls, taking charges, we both want to do those things that help our teams win.”
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.