Pistons look to reverse fortunes against Knicks

NBA Basketball

The Detroit Pistons have endured two lopsided losses to New York this season. They will get one more shot at the Knicks on Saturday when they wrap up a four-game homestand.

New York won the first meeting in Detroit 109-90 on Feb. 28. In the last game for both teams prior to the All-Star break, the Knicks never trailed while rolling to a 114-104 triumph on March 4.

The good news for the Pistons is that their top two offensive threats have broken out of slumps this week. Jerami Grant scored 30 points against Portland on Wednesday after back-to-back single-digit outings.

Josh Jackson, who averaged 9.4 points and shot 36.7 percent from the field in March, erupted for a season-high 31 points in the team’s first April game on Thursday. He scored 14 of those points in the opening quarter as the Pistons pounded Washington 120-91.

“We kept running plays for him and putting him in situations where he was going to get the ball,” coach Dwane Casey said. “You just have a feel when a guy like that gets it going. Our players recognized that with Josh and were willing to move the ball and find him.”

Jackson, who made just 5 of 28 3-point attempts in 10 March games, shot 4-for-7 from beyond the arc.

“Took them without thinking. My teammates, they saw I hit a few shots in a row and when guys do that, they try to go to them and that’s what they did (Thursday),” Jackson said. “They did a good job of finding me open and setting screens to get me open. It did make it easy for me.”

Recently-acquired Hamidou Diallo got the night off but he’s expected to play against the Knicks. Diallo has scored 19 points off the bench in each of his last two games, shooting a combined 13-for-18 from the field. He has also been a factor on the boards, grabbing a total of 17 rebounds in those contests.

The Pistons have had four different players lead them in scoring over the last four games.

“We’re a young team and we don’t have a set rotation,” Casey said. “We need guys who will be ready to play every night, no matter how many minutes they are getting.”

Detroit’s lottery pick last fall, guard Killian Hayes, could return to action on Saturday. He has been out since Jan. 4 due to a hip injury.

The Knicks will be playing the second end of a back-to-back. They lost at home to Dallas 99-86 on Friday and will be looking to end a three-game slide.

Julius Randle shot just 5-for-20 from the field against the Mavericks while scoring 14 points, though he did have 11 assists and eight rebounds. He has averaged 26 points, 12 rebounds and 6.5 assists against Detroit this season.

Guard Derrick Rose, who will be playing against his former team on Saturday, shot 1-for-10 from the field.

“We’ve just got to be mindful of time, score and just the pace of the game,” Rose said. “We were putting a lot of pressure on ourselves at the end. … Every team is fighting for something right now. And the teams that are not playing for (the postseason), they would love to be the team to try to knock us out of the playoffs. That’s what the NBA is about — No Boys Allowed.”

–Field Level Media

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