Hobbled Knicks aim to jump on league-worst Pistons

The banged-up New York Knicks go from one extreme to the other during the first two games of their homestand.After league-leading Boston defeated the Knicks for the fourth time this season on Saturday, New York hosts the league’s worst team, the eight-win Detroit Pistons, on Monday night.The Knicks have lost six of their past eight games, but it’s been a long time since the Pistons defeated them. The Knicks have won the past 13 meetings with Detroit, including a 118-112 triumph Nov. 30. The Pistons’ last win over the Knicks came Nov. 6, 2019.With starters Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson and OG Anunoby still not close to returning from injuries, the Knicks fell to Celtics 116-102 in the opener of a four-game homestand.As usual, Jalen Brunson carried the scoring load, piling up 34 points along with nine assists, but the Knicks couldn’t match Boston’s firepower. The Celtics shot 56.8 percent from the field and committed only seven turnovers.Boston pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Knicks 35-26.”In the third quarter, I thought we got hit with a barrage of 3s. And some of those were us. The communication wasn’t what it needed to be,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.”We have to shore that up, and you just can’t afford to have it where you give up three 3s in a game that tight. Against a team like that, you have to play 48 minutes of really good basketball, and we didn’t do that.”A first-time All-Star this season, Brunson is averaging 32.1 points and 7.1 assists this month but believes he could do more from a leadership standpoint.”It’s definitely difficult, but we’ve got to step up to the challenge,” Brunson said. “I’ve got to be better, plain and simple, from a vocal leader standpoint to not turning the ball over, to being a better decision-maker.”They got on runs, turnovers, getting in transition and getting 3s and timely offensive rebounds. They’re good for a reason, and we’ve just got to be better.”