The Pistons won on Wednesday night, 122-102, with a season-high 37 assists and four starters in double figures. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Detroit — Sharing is caring. And sharing was a big part of the Pistons’ effort on Wednesday, spreading the assists around throughout the game.
The Pistons finished with a season-high 37 assists — on 44 field goals — and played one of their best wire-to-wire games of the season, dispatching the New York Knicks, 122-102, on Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena.
It was their third straight home win, after they dropped the first two of the season. The Pistons (4-5) will look to get their first winning streak of the season Friday against the Indiana Pacers — whom they’ve beaten twice in the first three weeks.
Andre Drummond flirted with a triple-double, with 27 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists, as did Luke Kennard (12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists). Tony Snell (24 points) and Markieff Morris (22 points) each notched a season high and the starting unit rolled, with 94 points, also a season high.
The assists were the visible difference, though.
“That was one of our things going into tonight, moving the ball and passing the ball. Thirty-seven assists is huge and that is something we went in the game wanting to do,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “Those are the things that we have to continue to do — not just tonight — but we have to be consistent.
“Our whole issue and our enemy right now is consistency.”
The Knicks (1-7) tied it at 59 late in the second quarter on a drive by Julius Randle (20 points) but the Pistons finished the half with two drives by Drummond and a free throw by Kennard, for a 64-59 lead at halftime.
The Pistons shot 57 percent from the field in the first half and 46 percent on 3-pointers. The offensive boost made things easier on both ends of the court.
“I think last game in the first half, we had 16 assists and we ended up with like 20,” said Bruce Brown, who had nine points and six assists. “It was a big point for us on film to share the ball, get the ball moving and we scored a lot of points.”
The Pistons had 37 assists and dispatched the New York Knicks, 122 - 102, on Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena Rod Beard, The Detroit News
That wasn’t an issue for the Pistons, as they had answers for the Knicks’ rallies. The Knicks stayed close early in the third quarter but a decisive 20-6 run during the middle six minutes helped put the game away. Morris hit a 3-pointer and added a 4-point play during the run and Drummond added six points.
Snell, who finished 9-of-9 from the field and made all six of his 3-pointers, finished the spurt with a 3-pointer and Drummond punctuated it with a dunk, for an 89-75 advantage at the 4:48 mark.
“That was bound to come. We’ve been telling Tony to shoot since the beginning of the season, since we got him,” Drummond said. “I tell him all the time: ‘Shoot the ball; that’s why you’re here. I don’t care who’s in front of you.’ If you get the ball and you have a step to get a shot up, then shoot it.’
“He shot with a lot of confidence today and he made a lot of good shots.”
The Knicks had another rally, cutting the lead to 96-85 at the end of the quarter, behind a reverse lay-in from Marcus Morris (18 points and four rebounds) and finishing with a pair of free throws from Kevin Knox (14 points).
The Pistons put it away with another 4-point play, by Langston Galloway (14 points), who followed with a free throw after Marcus Morris got a technical foul. That opened a 14-2 run that pushed the lead to 120-95 with 3:43 left.
The only remaining question was whether Drummond or Kennard could get to a triple-double, but the assists proved elusive and the reserves entered for the final couple of minutes.
Here are some observations from the matchup:
►The Pistons’ sharing of the ball was evident early on and just continued throughout the game. Unlike much of the early season, the passing was crisp and there were plenty of good looks to be had before they ultimately chose a shot they liked. Five players had at least five assists, including four of the starters. Only Khyri Thomas and Jordan Bone, who played in the last four minutes, didn’t register an assist.
►Snell was hot early and just kept making shots. While the Pistons had struggled with 3-point shooting in most of their losses, they hit 50 percent (15-of-30) on Wednesday and because of the good passing, had their choice of shots. Six players hit at least one 3-pointer and three had multiple makes. When Snell can hit at that clip, he changes the dynamic of the starting group.
►Drummond snapped his streak of four games with at least 20 rebounds, grabbing only 12. His passing ability was on display and at the point of the offense, he’s showing that he can handle the extra touches and be an effective facilitator. He had four turnovers, which continues to be a concern, but coach Dwane Casey can accept those if Drummond is engaged offensively.
►Langston Galloway has been steady in his last five games, chipping in 12.6 points off the bench and shooting 45 percent on 3-pointers. As Kennard and Morris have had bigger loads to carry, Galloway also has risen to the occasion himself, often playing as the small forward in their smaller lineups.