Alec Burks, R.J. Barrett lead Knicks past Pistons, 104-102

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - MARCH 27: Killian Hayes #7 of the Detroit Pistons handles the ball against Miles McBride #2 of the New York Knicks during the fourth quarter at Little Caesars Arena on March 27, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) (Nic Antaya, 2022 Nic Antaya)

DETROIT – Alec Burks hit a 3-pointer for New York's final points and finished off Detroit with a last-second steal in the Knicks' 104-102 victory over the Pistons on Sunday.

R.J. Barrett led New York with 21 points, Julian Randle had 20 and Burks and Immanuel Quickly had 18 each.

Trailing by two, the Pistons called a timeout to set up a final play with 6.6 seconds left. Killian Hayes inbounded the ball to Cade Cunningham, but Burks stripped the ball as he tried to drive.

“That's Cade's future — he's going to be facing a lot of those situations as he moves forward in the league,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. "I think he hesitated just a bit and that's when Burks got lucky and stripped him.

Barrett wasn't surprised at Burks making two big plays down the stretch.

“For whatever reasons, he just loves playing in Detroit,” Barrett said. “I think the last time we were here, he scored 34 points.”

Marvin Bagley III led Detroit with 27 points, and Cunningham added 18.

“I'm getting a great opportunity here, and I'm trying to make the best of it,” Bagley said. “It is so much fun to be playing with guys who understand my game and how to put me in spots where I can succeed.”

The Knicks took control early, going up 45-26 on a reverse alley-oop dunk by Obi Topping in the second quarter. They led by 21, but the Pistons regained the momentum after halftime.

“We keep digging ourselves into a hole early in games, and then we have to scratch and claw all night just to give ourselves a chance,” Casey said. “I liked the way we played in the last three quarters — we played decent defense and we hit some shots — but we can't play the first quarter like that.”

Detroit pulled to 80-79 after holding New York to 21 points in the third quarter and tied it at 83 with 9:56 to play.

“You have to be prepared to win games a lot of different ways in this league,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We had a big lead early, but that dissipated, so we had to win it again down the stretch.”

Quickley answered with a 3-pointer and his dunk drew a Pistons timeout with New York up 90-86 with 7:07 to play. Detroit tied it again at 90, but Randle’s 3-pointer sparked a 7-0 run.

Bagley dunked over Randle and made a free throw to pull the Pistons to 99-96 with 2:09 left, and Saddiq Bey made two free throws to make it a one-point game with a minute left.

Burks's 3-pointer made it 104-100, but Hayes cut the margin in half with a layup. Barrett's fadeaway jumper missed, and Bey grabbed the rebound to set up the final possession.

“That's a really tough basketball team,” Mitchell Robinson said. “I know they don't have a great record, but they are young and they fight you every step of the way.”

TIP INS

Knicks: Former Pistons and Knicks player Allan Houston, now a member of the New York front office, met with Pistons guard Bey to congratulate him before the game. Bey broke Houston's franchise record for single-season 3-pointers this week.

Pistons: Cunningham moved past 1,000 points in the first half of his 59th career game. The first overall pick last summer is averaging 17.1 points.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Host Chicago on Monday night.

Pistons: At Brooklyn on Tuesday night.