'Resilient' Pistons win fourth straight at Knicks' expense
New York — Even if it is too little and too late, the Pistons are having a good run toward the end of the season. After winning three straight at home, they looked to extend their streak on the road for the first of a back-to-back in New York.
Add another one to the streak.
The Pistons kept rolling, holding off a fourth-quarter push from the New York Knicks and taking a 115-109 victory on Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden.
It’s the sixth win in the last seven games for the Pistons (36-40), who finish their short road trip Sunday evening against the Brooklyn Nets.
Andre Drummond had 22 points and 17 rebounds and Anthony Tolliver and Reggie Jackson 17 points each for the Pistons, who are holding on to their faint postseason hopes, trailing the Milwaukee Bucks by five games for the final playoff spot in the East, with just six games remaining.
The Pistons had a one-point lead heading into the fourth and the reserves helped them build on the margin, before holding on for a 30-25 advantage in the final period.
“It was great; we found a way to battle,” Jackson said. “We found a way to respond and be resilient; we kept fighting. We’re just happy with the win.”
Jackson had seven straight Pistons points in the second quarter when they built a 438-39 lead after a Jackson scooping layin, two free throws from Stanley Johnson (10 points) and another free throw from Tolliver, who started for Blake Griffin (right-ankle bone bruise), who missed his second straight game.
At halftime, the Pistons led, 56-54 but the Knicks took their largest lead when the Michigan connection of Trey Burke (18 points and 15 assists) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (18 points) took over, scoring 13 of the Knicks’ first 18 points in the period.
Then Michael Beasley (32 points) got hot, scoring seven straight Knicks points just after that run, including a 3pointer, a floater and a jumper.
“Beasley was the hot hand. As the point guard, I wanted to make sure the ball was in his hands,” Burke said, who scored 42 points last week against the Hornets. “The other night in Charlotte, they made sure the ball was in my hands.
“Some nights, it’s going to be Tim that has it going. (Beasley) was the one that got us easy buckets.”
The Pistons had an 85-84 lead entering the fourth quarter and got a putback and a 3-pointer from Henry Ellenson (nine points). Drummond had a layin off a pass from Ellenson to complete a 6-2 run, but Beasley got going again. He had 13 points in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks (27-50), who have lost five of their last six games, stay close.
Beasley scored before Drummond’s basket to end the run and Beasley added a 3-pointer after, to get within 92-89, with 7:54 left.
Jackson answered with a jumper and Drummond a putback dunk, boosting the lead back to seven. The Knicks never got closer than four the rest of the way and the Pistons hit their free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.
Coach Stan Van Gundy was satisfied with the Pistons’ defense, but they couldn’t find an answer to keep Beasley in check.
“I don’t think we were that bad, but we just couldn’t guard Beasley. I’ll go back through all his shots; he wasn’t getting a lot of easy shots,” Van Gundy said. “Down the stretch, he made five really, really difficult shots. He’s a great scorer.
“He hit the 3 on Henry and Henry was right there. He hit runners and two or three when the ball bounced two or the times and went in. there were some things I didn’t like defensively but when they were scoring, particularly in the fourth, our defense was pretty good.”