"I get in trouble if I do that, that's the problem. You do that and win 60 games, you get fired" (Mike D'Antoni discussing the heavy minutes played by his team during double overtime matinee with the Pistons).
"I didn't even feel it out there. I'm sure that I will feel it tomorrow, though" (Landry Fields discussing the 51 minutes played against the Pistons).
One day after having their 5 game winning streak snapped, the Knicks headed to Detroit to face the Pistons and extend on their 4 game road winning streak. Looking to avoid the slow start that doomed their matinee efforts the night before the Knicks came out firing in the first quarter as they surged to a 28-25 advantage to end that quarter. The Knicks efforts were paced by Chandlers 13 points in the opening quarter while Amar'e Stoudemire added 6 points and Danilo Gallinari added 7 points.
The Pistons offense in the first quarter was lead by Rodney Stuckey who had 8 points in that period and Richard Hamilton and Tayshuan Prince who had 7 and 6 points respectively in that period. The Knicks lead by Chandler and Gallinari connected on 4 three pointers in the first quarter and withstood a series of early Piston surges that produced 5 lead changes and 4 ties. A sign of things to come on what would be a very competitive matinee affair between the Knicks and Pistons.
The 2nd quarter became a back and forth sea saw affair as the two teams exchanged 13 lead changes and 3 ties. The Knicks in that quarter proved to be unable to defend the Pistons half court sets which included a series of back door cuts, give and go handoffs to the the Pistons quick guards and perimeter shooting set up by solid half court picks. As a result the Pistons reclaimed the lead in the 2nd quarter by outscoring the Knicks 30 to 25.
The Pistons 2nd quarter rally was lead by their bench (including Tracey McGrady's 13 points and Charlie Villanueva's and Greg Monroe's 5 and 4 points respectively). Stuckey added six points and would prove to be a nuisance to the Knicks defensive efforts throughout the later portions of the game. Stoudemire's 2nd quarter efforts kept the Knicks in the game as he scored 14 points (getting six points at the line) , Raymond Felton added 4 points while battling a debilitating flue that would wear on him throughout the course of the game.
KNICKS PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Entering the 3rd quarter the Pistons would extend their lead to 8 (their largest lead in the game) as Detroit's half court offense continued to carve up the Knicks. The Pistons would hold that lead twice on the strength of Stuckey's 10 points in that quarter with contributions from Hamilton and Prince who chipped in 5 and 4 points respectively. The Knicks 3rd quarter scoring was paced by Landry fields (7 points) who shook off his scoreless first half start. Stoudemire and Gallinari contributed 4 points each to help keep the Knicks in the game as New York closed out the quarter down by 3 (outscored by the Pistons 23 to 22 in that period).
Despite an early spurt by the Pistons to extend their lead to 5 points, the Knicks would rally and retake the lead on the strength of Felton's three made 3 pointers, Stoudemires 7 points (five of which came from the line) and 4 points from Chandler who had gone silent in the prior two quarters. The Knicks surge retook the lead and extended it to seven points over the Pistons. But the Pistons, who do not have a regular go to scorer, found the hot hand of Prince who scored 12 points in the 4th quarter. Prince scoring came on a mix of moves including a running lefty hook a fade away turn around jumper, several straight square up jumpers and several visits to the free throw line. The Knicks could not find an answer to contain Prince as the game was knotted up three times after the Knicks retook the lead, leading to a game that would go into overtime.
Prince's still sizzling hot hand (6 points and a foul shot make) coupled by Hamilton's 3 pointer would match the 10 points produced by the Knicks in overtime (2 by Felton and 4 by Stoudemire and Fields), and the Knicks headed into double overtime. In the 2nd overtime the Knicks would overwhelm the weary Pistons with a three point barrage lead by Gallinari's two three pointers to start the period and Chandler and Fields bombs. The 12 combined points from beyond the arc when coupled by Felton and Stoudemire's makes were to much for the tired Pistons to overcome as they could only muster 7 points in the final stanza.
PISTONS PLAYERS OF THE GAME
For any fan of the Knicks the cardiac style in which the game was won surely was taxing but not as taxing as the wear those heavy minutes played on the short handed Knicks. A Knicks team that was without two key players in their rotation, Ronny Turiaf (knee sprain) and Toney Douglas (bone contusion). As a result four Knicks starters on Sunday logged over fifty minutes of playing time (Stoudemire 54, Gallinari 51, Fields 51 and Felton 53). The wear of such an event will surely concern any fan of current Knicks lead man Amar'e Stoudmire. Nevertheless a short handed Knicks team took the Detroit Piston's best offensive shot and withstood a double overtime thriller on their way to five game road winning streak.
This game was one where heroes abounded for the Knicks. From Chandler's 1st quarter showing to keep the Knicks on pace with the Pistons to Fields 11 timely boards and 2nd half scoring burst to Felton's barrage in the 4th to rally the Knicks comeback to Gallinari's 6 2nd overtime points to burry the pesky Pistons. But Stoudemire above all provided the consistent scoring and surprised with hustle boards that denied the Pistons successful defensive stops and gave the Knicks several important second shot opportunities. Stoudemire also played solid defense on the Pistons, playing with 4 fouls in the 4th quarter and going forward. Felton's inspirational grit (enduring a bout of the flu to rally the Knicks in the 4th and provide direction at the point with 11 assists) provided tremendous leadership along with Stoudemire on a game the Knicks needed to win. A win that righted their ship after being derailed the night before by the visiting Hawks.
Up next the Knicks look to get to winning at the Garden as they return to New York to face their tri-state area rivals the New Jersey Nets. A game that should carry plenty of significance for both teams as both look to circle the wagons on their poor play and non playoff seasons from a year ago.