NEW YORK (AP) — The Detroit Pistons knew a victory Wednesday night would guarantee them a playoff spot. And, from the opening tip, they left no doubt that was going to happen.
Luke Kennard scored 27 points, Reggie Jackson had 21 and Andre Drummond added 20 points and 18 rebounds as the 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 as the Pistons never trailed and led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter. Neither player was needed in the fourth quarter.
“We knew what was at stake,” Drummond said. “We knew they were coming in to try and ruin our season that we worked so hard for. Just tried to stick it to them early and get them out of the game.”
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.
“We’re building something special, and this is the first step to get into the playoffs,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “Our fans are used to great basketball. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re not where we were.”
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 that, Detroit hadn’t made the postseason since 2008-09.
John Jenkins led the Knicks with 16 points, Kadeem Allen scored 13, Henry Ellenson added 12, and Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hicks each had 11.
The Pistons outrebounded the Knicks 56-33.
“They really got after us,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “They didn’t take it light because they were playing the youngest and last-place team in the league. They came here and gave it to us.”
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.
“We knew we needed to come out with a little more fight, a little more competitiveness tonight,” Kennard said. “The message before the game was let’s put together a full 48 minutes, and I thought we did that.”
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.
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