An eventful week has obscured the fact that the New York Knicks have equaled their longest winning streak of the season.
The Knicks have won three in a row entering their game at the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.
They’ve made plenty of headlines in other ways this week. They fired president Steve Mills and replaced him with longtime agent Leon Rose. They also traded their leading scorer, forward Marcus Morris, to the Los Angeles Clippers.
New York erased a double-digit, fourth-quarter deficit on Thursday to edge the Orlando Magic 105-103. The Knicks were coming off road victories against the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
“We are still a team. We’ve still got to keep pushing,” rookie guard RJ Barrett said. “We’ve still got to play every day and do our jobs, and we did that.”
Barrett returned to action on Thursday after missing nine games with a sprained right ankle. He had 12 points, three assists and three rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.
“I was sore, but fighting through it,” Barrett said. “It was great to be back out there with my teammates. I just had a lot of fun out there.”
Barrett is averaging 14.0 points per game. With Morris out of the picture, New York will rely even more on him and forward Julius Randle (19.0 points per game). Randle, who has started all 50 games in which he’s played this season, is averaging 19.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists during the modest winning streak.
This will be the second of four meetings between the Knicks and Pistons. Detroit won 122-102 at home on Nov. 6 behind Andre Drummond’s 27 points and 12 rebounds.
The Pistons will be playing their first home game since dealing their longtime center to Cleveland on Thursday.
Drummond, the league’s premier rebounder, held a player option on his contract for next season, and the front office preferred having salary-cap room during the offseason.
“We are looking to rebuild,” Pistons senior adviser Ed Stefanski said to NBA.com and other media members in a conference call. “What the future holds is going to be interesting. We haven’t had the luxury the last two seasons of having any real cap flexibility.”
The Pistons originally hoped to make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons but they were ravaged by injuries.
“We haven’t had our projected starting lineup one time,” Stefanski said. “The coach [Dwane Casey] has had to juggle lineups constantly. We were always discussing that we were probably going to have to rebuild here because we were in the middle of the pack. It’s not the place we want to be in or the fans want to be in.”
Drummond’s replacement in the lineup, Christian Wood, had a big statistical game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, compiling 27 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. But it wasn’t enough as Detroit lost the road game 108-101.
The Pistons played short-handed, as Derrick Rose, Svi Mykhailiuk and Markieff Morris, among others, missed the game due to injuries. The players acquired from the Cavaliers, Brandon Knight and John Henson, have not yet joined the club but could be available on Saturday.
–Field Level Media