Star center Kristaps Porzingis looks for a much-improved performance in his second game back from a knee injury when the New York Knicks visit the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Porzingis missed all 11 of his field-goal attempts and scored just one point on Thursday, but New York still posted an impressive 102-93 victory over Boston.
With Porzingis struggling, journeyman forward Michael Beasley stepped up to save the Knicks against the Celtics by scoring 18 of his season-high 32 points in the fourth quarter. “Thanks to me, the game was close. I kept it close,” Porzingis told reporters. “Otherwise, I thought we should have won by a bigger difference. ... I couldn’t find my rhythm. Michael Beasley had my back.” Detroit had its three-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday, when it was drubbed 110-93 by lowly Dallas. “You can’t get too caught up in that because if you look at our schedule and you had gone back at the beginning of the year and tried to pencil in what you thought were wins and losses, you would’ve been way off,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters. “So you play every night, and if you play well enough, we have a chance to beat anybody.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), FSN Detroit
ABOUT THE KNICKS (17-14): Beasley, who also grabbed a season-best 12 rebounds, was the No. 2 overall choice in the 2008 draft but didn’t live up to the billing as the Knicks are his sixth NBA team. Yet he certainly is playing like a big-time talent over the last three games by averaging 28.3 points and 8.7 rebounds while making 33-of-58 field-goal attempts. “I’m just here for the team,” Beasley told reporters. “Whatever they need, whenever they need it. Scoring, rebounding, defense, just trying my best. As humbly as I can say it, I just feel like every shot that I shoot is going in.”
ABOUT THE PISTONS (17-14): Detroit’s defense was sub-par against the Mavericks and leading scorer Tobias Harris had a poor night with 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting. When it was suggested to Van Gundy that the loss to Dallas was a blow, he quickly countered that chatter with a big-picture refrain. “The standings don’t mean anything right now,” Van Gundy told reporters. “We’re 31 games into the year with 51 to go. It’s not like we’ve got two games to go. We just need to play better.”
1. The Pistons halted a four-game losing streak against the Knicks on Oct. 21, when Harris scored 31 points in a 111-107 triumph.
2. New York C Enes Kanter recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds against Boston for his sixth double-double in 11 contests.
3. Detroit PF Anthony Tolliver is 9-for-13 from 3-point range while averaging 17.5 points over his last two games.
PREDICTION: Pistons 99, Knicks 95