For Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey, a comeback from a double-digit deficit Wednesday provided some much-needed optimism in the midst of an extended rebuild.
For the New York Knicks, their attempt to overcome a double-digit deficit offered another hard-earned lesson about the narrow margins between happiness and disappointment under coach Tom Thibodeau.
The Pistons will look to build off their recent rally on Friday night when they visit New York for the Knicks’ home opener.
Both teams were off Thursday after back-and-forth season openers Wednesday night. The Pistons outlasted the visiting Orlando Magic, 113-109, while the Knicks fell to the host Memphis Grizzlies, 115-112, in overtime.
The Pistons, who finished with the third-worst record (23-59) in the NBA last season while missing the playoffs for the third straight time and the 11th time in 13 years, got off to a slow start Wednesday, when the Magic raced out to a 21-6 lead.
But the Pistons led 57-55 at the half and led by as many as 12 in the third quarter before fending off a comeback by the Magic, who tied the game at 99-99 with 5:17 left. Detroit scored the next seven points and finally finished off Orlando when Isaiah Stewart drained a 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds remaining to extend the lead to 111-107.
“We got our tails handed to us in the first, but we didn’t drop our heads,” said Casey, who is beginning his fifth season at the helm.
Nor did Stewart, who missed his first three 3-pointers before hitting his final attempt.
“It was huge for him, for his confidence,” Casey said. “I was proud of him.”
The Knicks, who finished 37-45 last year and didn’t qualify for the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years, led just once in the first half and trailed by as many as 19 early in the third quarter before chipping away at the Grizzlies’ lead.
Jalen Brunson gave the Knicks a short-lived lead with 3:31 left in regulation when he hit a reverse layup. The fifth-year point guard, who signed a four-year deal with New York as a free agent in July, forced overtime by dishing to Cam Reddish for a game-tying 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left in regulation before drawing a charge on Ja Morant that negated a potential game-winning basket with 0.5 seconds left.
“That was a great play,” said Thibodeau, in his third season as head coach. “That’s who he is. Giving his body up for the team. To me, that’s the definition of a playmaker.”
But the Knicks ran out of steam in overtime, when they missed eight of 10 shots, including all four from 3-point land. New York missed four shots with a chance to take the lead before misfiring on a pair of potential game-tying 3-pointers in the final 40 seconds.
“What I want them to see is it’s one or two plays here or there — that’s the difference between winning and losing,” Thibodeau said.
The Pistons are trying to start 2-0 for the first time since 2018-19, when they opened 4-0. The Knicks are looking to avoid their fourth 0-2 start in the past six seasons.
–Field Level Media