With injuries come opportunities, and Timofey Mozgov made the most of his opportunity tonight against the Pistons. The Knicks played Detroit without Wilson Chandler (strained calf) and Shawne Williams (suspension), meaning there were extra frontcourt minutes to go around. Mozgov and Anthony Randolph were sprung from the bench to absorb some of those minutes, and while Randolph was solid, the Knicks' Russian rookie really stole the show. Mozgov started the game shakily, missing his first four shots, but blossomed from that point forward. He rebounded with authority, filled the lane like an expert, and showed both an ability to finish at the rim and a pretty smooth mid-range stroke. All told, he finished with 23 points and 14 boards in 40 minutes, all of which are career highs. Mozgov earned cheers of adoration from the Garden crowd (including chants of his name, and even some "M-V-P!" chants at the foul line), and most likely earned a spot in the rotation going forward.
Mozgov's breakout performance somewhat overshadowed some excellent games by other Knicks, and also distracted some attention from a game that hung perilously in the balance until the fourth quarter. The Pistons hung around (and actually held the lead for significant stretches) by shooting the lights out from outside. Knick guards repeatedly got caught on screens and left shooters like Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva get away for open looks. Meanwhile, Danilo Gallinari (29 points on just 12 shots) had an outstanding night, including some big threes in the fourth quarter, and Amar'e Stoudemire scored 16 of his 33 points in the third despite a sprained knee.
After the two teams traded leads for a while, the Knicks eventually locked down on defense and forced the Pistons to miss some tough attempts. That, coupled with New York's best offensive stretch of the night, allowed the Knicks to turn a close game into a blowout affair. Above all else, though, this was the night of Mozgov.
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