January 01, 2015

Stan Van Gundy knows the key to the Detroit Pistons success has to do with ball movement. A matchup with a crumbling opponent should also help.

The injury-riddled Pistons look to do a better job of sharing the ball Saturday night when they try to capitalize on a meeting with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Detroit (31-30) is trying to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09. The Pistons have a tenuous hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference, one-half game ahead of Chicago and one in front of Washington.

Their attempt to widen that gap fell short Wednesday as their season high-tying four-game win streak ended with a 97-81 loss at San Antonio. Detroit was held to 30 points on 9-for-36 shooting in the second half, while totaling five assists compared to 14 in the opening 24 minutes.

The Pistons are last in the NBA in assists percentage at 49.6.

"All I know is when it starts for us, a lot of times it never stops," Van Gundy told the team's official website of the lack of ball movement. "Once one guy's not moving it, then the next guy's not moving it and then we're ending up in a one-on-one game. I don't know why it starts, but when it does we have a hard time getting ourselves out of it."

Injuries are posing another problem with Stanley Johnson (shoulder), Anthony Tolliver (knee) and Jodie Meeks still out. Tolliver has missed five games and Johnson four, while Meeks is nearing a return from a broken foot suffered in October.

With all the injuries, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond are under even more pressure to produce. Jackson was limited to 11 points on 4 for 13 from the field Wednesday after averaging 23.0 on 54.3 percent in his previous five games.

Drummond, meanwhile, had his career-high streak of 13 straight double-doubles snapped with nine points and 14 rebounds.

Both had little trouble in a 111-105 win over the Knicks on Feb. 4. Jackson scored 21 points, while Drummond had 17 and 13.

Detroit has won five of seven against New York with a 54.2 assists percentage.

The Knicks (25-38) are on their way to missing the playoffs for a third straight season thanks to a 3-16 stretch during which they've surrendered 104.8 points.

They squandered an eight-point lead in the final 3 1/2 minutes Friday in a 105-104 loss at Boston.

"We have to build better habits," guard Arron Afflalo said. "It's our shot selection and turnovers, uncharacteristic turnovers - whether it be from myself or anyone else. ... The more we minimize those things the better we will be."

Carmelo Anthony had 30 points Friday and is averaging 26.0 in his last three games, but was held to 19 while missing 14 of 18 shots against the Pistons last month.

Offense has been hard to come by lately at home for New York, which has lost eight of nine at MSG while averaging 93.6 points on 41.4 percent shooting.

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