In an unusual night for the Knicks, both Robin Lopez and Jose Calderon performed exceptionally well against Detroit on Tuesday. Ironically enough, such success only proves just how elevated New York's play would be if it received consistent contributions at these given positions on a nightly basis. The duo was a major key in a decisive 108-96 victory.
Lopez played great defense on Andre Drummond, who, en route to becoming one of the Eastern Conference's top front-court players, is even beating Carmelo Anthony in All-Star votes. Nevertheless, Lopez limited space for Drummond inside, boxed out and played him rather physically. As a result, the Pistons' center shot poorly and failed to pull down boards. His numbers were well off his MVP candidate averages.
While Lopez anchored the defense, Calderon ran the floor like a pro. The Knicks were moving the ball well and players were constantly in motion without it. Calderon pushed the pace and ran the pick and roll nicely, resulting in a 54 percent shooting night for his squad. Needless to say, this victory came easier than expected. Here are some other observations from the win.
- Derrick Williams continues to perform well when given ample minutes off the bench. He's an absolute X-Factor for this team offensively. He's an aggressive slashing forward who loves the ball in his hands. There aren't too many players who can score 16 points in the fourth quarter like he did.
- Lopez (six) and Kristaps Porzingis (two) hosted a block party all night long. After getting banged up a bit in the previous two games, however, the rookie was kept to only 18 minutes of play.
- The Knicks continue to win in a fashion that suggests Anthony ( 24 points on 11-of-24 shooting) doesn't need to carry them from start to finish. All they need is for him to heat up in bunches at different points along the way, and now other players are capable of picking up the slack. That's been very refreshing.
- Led by Williams and the surprisingly sharpshooting Kyle O'Quinn (12 points in 11 minutes), the Knicks' bench outscored Detroit's 39-21.