By Ian Parfrey @Ianparfrey
The Knicks probably deserved a win just for spending three days in London without J.R. Smith or Rasheed Wallace starting an international incident. As it is, they had a fairly easy time with a Pistons team that had gone 7-3 over their last 10 games. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 26 points, and Amar’e Stoudemire (17 points) and J.R. Smith (16 points) had strong games off the bench. Iman Shumpert made his season debut, starting at shooting guard, and scored 8 points (3-7 FG) in 15 minutes.
The game got away from the Pistons early, as the Knicks started on a 16-2 run that featured three transition three-pointers in 90 seconds. The Knicks’ biggest lead was 44-24 on a J.R. Smith triple with 6:34 left in the half, and they went into halftime leading 56-41.
With commissioner David Stern in attendance, the officials had to be on their best behavior. The game featured 5 traveling calls in the first half, back-to-back palming violations in the second, and 43 personal fouls. The Pistons were only 11-22 from the line, while the Knicks were 25-31.
Detroit threatened in the third quarter with a 16-2 run that cut the Knicks’ lead to 67-63, but the Knicks were able to put their foot back on the gas every time they needed to, and closed out the third with an 8-0 run to go up 75-63. In the fourth quarter, Detroit guard Will Bynum scored 7 straight points to bring the Pistons within 83-75, but the Knicks responded with an 11-0 run to put the game away. Bynum led the Pistons with 22 points off the bench, and Kyle Singler added 15.
This was the 16th regular-season NBA game to be played in a foreign country, and the third in London (the league has also played 12 games in Japan and 1 in Mexico since 1990). The previous London games featured none other than the New Jersey Nets, who swept the Raptors in a home-and-away series there in March 2011. The Nets beat the Raptors 116-103 behind Brook Lopez’s 25 points, and then won a triple-OT thriller, 137-136, the next night. Lopez had 34 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 blocks, and Deron Williams had 21 points and 18 assists.
The Knicks (25-13) increased their Atlantic Division lead to 2.5 games over the Nets with the win, and they resume action against the Nets Monday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. When asked about the trip to London, coach Mike Woodson said, “It gives us an opportunity for me and the players to bond, a little time together away from the States.” Rasheed Wallace said, “It’s cool. I’m good money,” whatever that means.