After big loss to Nets, Knicks play ‘unselfish’ basketball to beat Pistons and get back on track

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Julius Randle shoots over Bogdanovic city connect black jerseys

Julius Randle shoots over Bogdanovic city connect black jerseys

The eyes of the basketball world in New York were on Madison Square Garden on Friday night to see how the Knicks would respond after getting demolished by the Nets earlier this week.

And the team responded well, beating the upstart Detroit Pistons 121-112 to get back to .500 on the young season.

Was it a perfect game? Far from it. Was it great? Well, let Julius Randle tell you what he thought of the team’s performance after the game.

“It was good. Still a lot we can do better, but it was good,” he said.

Short and to the point. And why wouldn’t he be? It’s going to take a lot more than defeating the last place Pistons to make the sting of Wednesday’s loss to Brooklyn go away. But if the Knicks have any playoff aspirations they’ll have to win against the teams they are supposed to beat and regain that confidence.

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Against the Nets, the Knicks shot just 32 percent from the field (28 percent from three) and that inability to find the bottom of the basket carried over into their defense and in their energy overall. They allowed Brooklyn to drop 30 assists and were outrebounded 55 to 46.

Friday night was a different story. While New York still shot just 45 percent (25 percent from downtown) they outrebounded the Pistons 47 to 43, delivered more assists and forced 15 turnovers.

“The start of the game was good, the thing that was different about this game is we didn’t shoot the ball great, but we made a lot of unselfish plays to get high quality shots,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “Everyone was focused on helping the team first and we ended up scoring 120 points.”

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Friday’s game marked the fourth time the Knicks scored 120-plus points in a game this season — all wins — and a big reason for that was the play of the team’s three stars.

Randle, RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson scored 77 points combined including a season-high 30 points for Barrett. But when they were all on the court, the ball movement and ability to get to the basket was rarely matched.

“We carry a lot of responsibility of playmaking, scoring,” Randle said of he and his two teammates. “It’s just about making the right plays. …we knew we weren’t our best at Brooklyn. So get back on the right track.”

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Even when Detroit made a fourth-quarter run that threatened to erase the Knicks’ 17-point lead, the team didn’t falter. A Brunson floater here, a big Randle rebound there and New York eventually put the game away.

But Thibodeau and the rest of the team know that they weren’t a bell-to-bell team last season, letting leads get away or digging themselves into insurmountable holes like what happened in Brooklyn, and that has reared its ugly head again so far this year. But tonight was a good step towards bucking that trend.

“We’re striving to be a 48-minute team,” Thibodeau said. “I knew this would be a tough game. Bounce back and we got to get ready for the next one.”

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