Pistons earn final playoff spot in East with win over Knicks
NEW YORK (AP) — Luke Kennard scored 27 points, Reggie Jackson had 21 and Andre Drummond added 20 points and 18 rebounds as the Detroit Pistons locked up the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot with a 115-89 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
The Pistons will face the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round.
Jackson scored 14 points and Drummond had 10 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter as the Pistons never trailed and led by as many as 16 points. Neither Jackson nor Drummond played in the fourth quarter.
Wayne Ellington added 12 points for the Pistons, who hadn’t made the playoffs since the 2015-16 season, the last time they finished over .500 (44-38). Before, Detroit hadn’t made the postseason since 2008-09.
John Jenkins led the Knicks with 16 points, and Kadeem Allen added 13. Henry Ellenson scored 12 points, and Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hicks each had 11.
Detroit extended its lead to 27 points twice in the second quarter and led 65-41 at halftime. The Pistons went up by as many as 36 points and led 92-59 after the third quarter.
Detroit took a game-high 40-point lead, 109-69, on Zaza Pachulia’s lay-in with 4:31 left in the game.
The Knicks, who were looking to tie a season-high three-game winning streak, instead ended with a 17-65 final-season record, tied with their 2014-15 team for the worst in franchise history.
Pistons: Blake Griffin, who hurt his left knee against Memphis on Tuesday, did not play. … Jackson is the only Pistons player to play in and start all of the team’s 82 games. … Detroit has beaten the Knicks seven straight times. They haven’t lost to New York since March 27, 2017 (109-95).
Knicks: Dennis Smith Jr., acquired from Dallas in the trade for Kristaps Porzingis on January 31, did not play in the final game of the season due to back stiffness. DeAndre Jordan, who also came to the Knicks in that trade, also did not play (coach’s decision). … Kevin Knox (75) and Damyean Dotson (73) were the only Knicks to play more than 70 games this season. Knox and Noah Vonleh each started a team-high 57 times.
DUNKS A LOT
All of Robinson’s five baskets were scored on dunks. Four of them were of the alley-oop variety, all initiated by different teammates.
Four players who spent the majority of time on the Westchester Knicks G-League team during the season reunited for a large portion of the second quarter of New York’s season finale on Wednesday night. Jenkins, Hicks and Luke Kornet each played eight minutes, while Allen was on the court for seven. They accounted for 14 points as the Knicks were outscored 29-19 in the quarter.
Ellenson, who was a first-round draft choice by the Pistons in 2016, was playing against his former team for the first time. Chosen number 18 by Detroit, Ellenson played 21 minutes on Wednesday.