Knicks guard J.R. Smith stood at the free-throw line, chuckling at his air-balled free throw as the usually brutal Madison Square Garden crowd cheered in support — or downright amusement.
Players and their home crowd can do that when their team is up 20 and 20 minutes have barely been played. The New York Knicks made quick work of the Pistons Monday, with a 99-85 victory that wasn't as close as the score indicated, never trailing and making Jose Calderon's Piston debut a mere afterthought.
Calderon, cleared to play six hours before game time, was the only Piston who could say he brought it for the entire time he was out there, but the facilitator didn't get his first assist until late in the third quarter — and not for a lack of trying.
Hitting shots just wasn't in the plans for the Pistons, along with catching the ball, running and executing clean plays, and they shot just 29 percent in the first quarter, more than enough time for the hot-shooting Knicks to take control.
"Every time we play the Knicks, they dominate the first quarter," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "Mentally, we don't stay as focused and as engaged as we need to be."
Calderon was impressive offensively, with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting and three assists, looking very comfortable for someone playing his first game with new teammates. But one wasn't going to get it done.
The Knicks are neck-and-neck with the NBA champion Miami Heat for home-court advantage and the Pistons are playing to establish an identity, one that hasn't been revealed against Mike Woodson's Knicks.
The Knicks' dominance of the Pistons had been well-known since the start of last season, and this one went true to script to their first two meetings, won by the Knicks by a total of 36 points.
The Pistons trailed by as many as 26 in the first half while shooting just 32 percent. To make matters worse, rookie Andre Drummond didn't play the second half after trying to play through a sore back — he tweaked it against the Lakers on Sunday.
"We have to be past that point where we played the way we did in the first half," Frank said. "That's unacceptable. The only way we scored in the first half was in transition, really."
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130204/SPORTS0102/302040423#ixzz2K2HP73BM
Knicks continue dominance over Pistons in Calderon's debut
Detroit News | Feb 5