Crispy’s Pre-Game Notebook: Knicks-Pistons

NEW YORK KNICKS (1-1)

  • Jeff Hornacek looks for his first road win as Knicks coach tonight against a Pistons team that is the sexy pick to leap into the Top-4 playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.
  • If Hornacek, himself, was playing the two-guard position next to Derrick Rose, he would “make sure I’m in his vision when he is driving to the hoop (and) make myself available for a shot.”
  • Hornacek would like to see 6-to-7 assists out of Rose nightly.
  • Rose told me it will take 20-to-25 games to learn the ins-and-outs of his new teammates’ moves, tendencies and where they like the ball on the court. What has most surprised him so far? His stamina. After missing a significant part of training camp, he has not been winded in the first two games.
  • I asked Lance Thomas what Hornacek’s definition of gang-rebounding is as a counter to Detroit’s 7-footer Andre Drummond. Lance responded with, “when the ball goes up, I look at my man first quickly and if he isn’t going to the boards, I identify where Drummond is and sprint to him!”
  • Justin Holiday is getting more comfortable with the Knicks as a rotation player who is a capable scorer and ferocious defender. Holiday was pleased with the Knicks first quarter defense vs. Memphis (the Knicks allowed only 19 points), but still studied tape to find out what happened in the next three quarters when New York gave up 85 (over 28 points per quarter). “Too many easy baskets happened in the last 36 minutes,” he said. Holiday is a student of defense and plays his assignment according to what his opponent likes to do. “I try to take away what he likes most, giving space to drivers and trying to get up close to shooters,” he said.

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DETROIT PISTONS (2-1)

  • The Pistons won 44 games last year and played the Cavaliers tight in the first-round, despite getting swept.
  • Drummond is leading the league in rebounding (16.3 rpg) after signing a five-year, $125-million contract this offseason.
  • Ish Smith, the mercurial and well-traveled point guard (Detroit is his 10th team), has the ability to throw lob passes to Drummond and will be on Holiday’s radar.
  • The Pistons averaged 17,142 fans in their first two home games, the fourth-lowest in the league. They will be moving next season, along with the Red Wings, into a new arena downtown that will be re-fitted for basketball viewing angles. So, say goodbye to the Palace of Auburn Hills as the home of the Pistons, and hello to the downtown pro sports area that will include stadiums of the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings.