Knicks pull away in fourth quarter, beat Pistons 96-84

NEW YORK (AP) — Julius Randle had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and the New York Knicks pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 96-84 victory over the Detroit Pistons yesterday.

The Knicks led by only one after three quarters but then limited Detroit to 13 points in the final 12 minutes, just missing their best defensive performance of the season.

Elfrid Payton had 16 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Knicks, who finished 3-2 on their homestand by bouncing back from a 126-103 loss to Oklahoma City last Friday.

“I think they really smacked us. They threw the first hit and our team didn’t respond,” forward Bobby Portis said of that defeat.

“And we just came yesterday with a positive mindset. Everybody came in just ready to roll and I’m happy that it carried over tonight.”

New York Knicks guard Elfrid Payton shoots as Detroit Pistons guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk defends. PHOTO: AP

Mitchell Robinson had 14 points, 11 rebounds and a series of highlight-worthy athletic plays.

Christian Wood had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Pistons, who have lost four straight and 11 of their last 12 games. Bruce Brown scored 16.

The Knicks opened the fourth quarter with a 10-3 spurt that increased a 72-71 edge to 82-74, and from there they kept pounding it inside to Randle to expand their lead while the Pistons got nothing going offensively.

He was like a running back wearing down a tired team, going five of six at the line and scoring eight points in the period.

“I felt like I was getting hit like a running back,” Randle said. “We got the win nonetheless.”

Detroit shot four for 19 (21 per cent) in the fourth.

Wood’s free throws with 36 seconds to play kept the Knicks from matching their best defensive effort, when they held Brooklyn to 82 points on December 26.

“It was a one-point game going into the fourth quarter and we just couldn’t get anything going,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “The ball just stuck and everybody that caught it, held it, and you’re not going to produce very many points doing that.”

Detroit led 6-0 but New York scored the final 11 points of the first quarter, highlighted by Robinson’s dunk on Payton’s lob pass from midcourt, to take a 27-22 lead.

The Knicks led 49-47 at halftime.

The Pistons’ top players have all either been hurt, traded or bought out by now, and there just isn’t much firepower left on a team that’s turned to youth.

And on this night, their second of a back-to-back, there wasn’t much energy, either. Detroit finished at 36 per cent shooting from the field.

“We started off a little sluggish for some reason,” Wood said. “I don’t know if it was because of the back-to-back, but our pace wasn’t where we needed it to be and I feel guys were just a little sluggish today.”