Studs and Duds: New York Knicks pick up controversial win against Detroit Pistons

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The young and upcoming Detroit Pistons visited MSG for a showdown against the New York Knicks on Monday night. Jalen Brunson’s masterclass continues as the Nova Wildcats of New York played their best game as a trio yet. A controversial conclusion left much to be debated as the Knicks came away with a two-point, 113-111 win

Studs: Nova Knows 

For the first time ever, Knicks teammates Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo all scored 20 points or more in the same game. Leading the way was captain himself, Brunson, finishing with 35 points and 12 assists. Brunson set the tone with assists totals as eight of the nine players that touched the floor had an assist.

The ball movement was championship caliber by New York, who finished with 31 assists. Brunson leads by example every possession with his hustle plays, becoming contagious throughout the game. Brunson is now top seven in points per game, with 27.7, putting him ahead of Nikola Jokic, Anthony Edwards, and Jayson Tatum. This level of consistency combined with his size is indicative of Brunson’s tremendous IQ and poise every game. In his last five contests, Brunson is averaging 27 points and five assists on 42% from the field.

Studs: Donte DiVincenzo 

The “Big Ragu” is a well-deserved fan favorite on the New York Knicks. In the absence of multiple stars, the unexpected arrival of DiVincenzo gives a feeling that any game is winnable when he’s producing the way he has been this year.

Last season, coming off injury, Donte unexpectedly started 36 games for the Warriors, showing phenomenal cadence regardless of his preparation for a bench unit role. This season, DiVincenzo has already eclipsed his number of starts compared to last year while having the best numbers of his career.

Career highs in points, effective field goal, three-point, and field goal percentages have put DiVincenzo on the list of one of the NBA’s best contracts. Against the Detroit Pistons, DiVincenzo scored 21 points on 61% from the field. The long-range sniper is now third in total threes made across the entire association, ahead of names such as Klay Thompson and Trae Young. 

Studs: Josh the LionHart 

A military-grade Swiss Army Knife is how one could best describe Josh Hart. Over his last three games, Hart is averaging 19 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.

Winning NBA games without two of your best players is almost unheard of in modern times. Stacked teams are usually top-heavy, but this iteration of the New York Knicks may be an outlier thanks to what Josh Hart has helped accomplish. Playing the 1-4 positions with confidence and humility has established Hart as the ultimate team player who gets the job done with no regard. A winning player through and through, any team would jump at the chance to acquire the services of Josh Hart. 

Duds: Grimes and Fournier return to the Garden 

The storyline of this night was a return to the Mecca for both Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes. Both players were serviceable in New York until expectations maneuvered to a more defensive and humility-based rotation. The Knicks had control of the entire contest until the fourth saw a spark from former Knicks guard Quentin Grimes. The 25th pick in the 2021 draft scored 14 points in the final quarter, keeping it closer than expected down the stretch. 

Duds: Controversial no-call at the end of the game

The final sequence of the game either had viewers scratching their heads or jumping for joy. It was the Nova musketeers all in sequence as Hart’s defense was the catalyst to DiVincenzo dishing to Brunson, who got it back to Hart for the win. The polarity that existed in a 10-second time frame across the country is one of the beauties of professional basketball.

What’s being penciled as a Josh Hart game-winner wouldn’t have been the case if a foul was called on Donte DiVincenzo for the unintentional dive on Ausar Thompson. Monty Williams took to the podium postgame and had a word about officiating, but the Knicks got a narrow win over the worst record in the NBA. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Pistons 

It was a controversial win for New York on this occasion. There have been some controversial losses this season, but life is a balance. Giving up 111 points to the Pistons means New York still must lock in defensively, but that’s easier said than done without the right personnel.

The level of play from Brunson is MVP conversation-worthy, and the Knicks pushing for a top-three seed may be what gets him in the right convos. The New Orleans Pelicans are visiting the Garden on Tuesday night. A shorthanded Knicks team has done it before, as it will take another tremendous outing from the Nova trio to get this win over New Orleans. 

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