Photo Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The “Knicks Tank” remains in pristine condition

The “Knicks Tank” remains in tip-top shape! Bringing in DeAndre JordanWesley Matthews, and Dennis Smith Jr. through the blockbuster trade with the Dallas Mavericks have done little to change the New York Knicks tanking ways. Tonight, Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons traveled to Madison Square Garden to take on a struggling Knicks team and prevailed 105-92.

With this loss, the Knicks have now lost 15 straight home games and lost 27 of their last 29 games. Currently, the Knicks continue to lead the Zion Williamson standings with a cringe-worthy record of 10-43. Not even an enemy would be proud of that atrocious record.

Despite losing, the Knicks had two opportunities to tie the game against the Pistons late

Overall, the game was closer than the score suggests. David Fizdale has his troops playing competitively, but the Knicks don’t have the talent at the moment to pull out wins. Jordan and Matthews both provide veteran leadership, but they’re joining a Knicks squad whose tank has been tearing through cities since December. Detroit led from start to finish, but the Knicks had opportunities to tie the game.

In the third quarter, with 5:58 remaining, Smith Jr. nailed a three-pointer to bring the Knicks within three, 70-67. On the following possession, Matthews sent Reggie Bullock‘s shot back where it came from, and Noah Vonleh grabbed the rebound. Smith Jr. proceeded to get his layup sent back by Bruce Brown, but the Knicks recovered possession. On the wing, Jordan set a screen for Smith Jr. who knocked in a wide open three. Unfortunately, the refs called a foul on Jordan for a moving screen. Sure enough, on the following possession, Reggie Jackson made the Knicks pay with a three to push the Pistons lead back to six.

After being denied a game-tying basket by the Pistons in the third, the Knicks kept battling until another opportunity to tie the game arose in the fourth quarter.

Detroit began the fourth on a quick 4-0 run to push the lead to twelve, 83-71. Afterward, the Knicks responded with an 11-2 run to cut the Pistons lead to three, 85-82. Kadeem AllenLance Thomas, and Damyean Dotson nailed back-to-back-to-back threes to propel the Knicks back into the game. At this moment, the Knicks had the momentum, but Zaza Pachulia quickly erased whatever good vibes the Knicks had with an and-one. Pachulia’s basket sparked an 8-0 run which sealed the win for the Pistons.

The positives for the Knicks: The play of Dennis Smith Jr. and Mitchell Robinson

Even though the Knicks added another loss to their large collection of losses, there were some positives. One positive was the performance of Smith Jr. In Dallas, Luka Doncic was given the keys to the offense while he had to ride shotgun. Now, in New York, Smith Jr. is the one driving, and he’s embracing his new role.

Throughout the game, he was aggressive driving to the hole and finishing. He also showed good court vision, finding teammates open for three off of drives. His three-point shooting still needs a bit of work (2-of-9 from deep), but he showed the aggressiveness the Knicks are desperately missing from the point guard position. Smith Jr. finished with 25 points and 6 assists.

Another positive for the Knicks was the play of Mitchell Robinson. So far, Robinson had only one practice with Jordan. It’s unknown what happened during that practice, but Jordan must have given Robinson the secret sauce because he was on the court looking like a young Jordan 2.0. Robinson was all over the court, sending shots back to Penn Station while reenacting “Lob City” on offense. It seemed like every time Robinson set a pick he rolled to the basket to catch a lob from one of the Knicks guards. He finished with a double-double (13 points and 10 rebounds).

Detroit Pistons stats

Blake Griffin led all scorers with 29 points, and the Pistons were a whopping +24 when he was on the court. He also was dropping dimes left and right and finished with eight assists. Andre Drummond bullied the glass. He grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds to go with 17 points. The two Reggie’s (Bullock and Jackson) contributed with 19 points each.

The next stop on the Knicks midnight tank to Zion is Detroit to go up against the Pistons on Friday.

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