New York Knicks defeated the Detroit Pistons 102-87 at the O2 Arena on Thursday night in game that never really lived up to its pre-game hype.
The game was played in-front of a sellout 18,689 crowd at London’s premier indoor arena, in what was the NBA’s only regular season game of the 2012/13 season to be played outside of the the United States.
The Knicks got off to a quick start, pushing the lead out to 18-4 after only seven minutes. Despite a Pistons fight back, the Knicks were able to see off their opponents and claim a comfortable 102-87 win thanks to Carmelo Anthony’s 26 points.
For the Detroit Pistons, Will Bynum contributed 22 points off the bench.
After the game, Pistons coach, Lawrence Frank, was disappointed to have lost on such a big occasion.
“We came here to win a game, so it’s very, very disappointing,” said the 42-year-old.
“This is not a vacation. We are not tourists. We came here to play a competition on an international stage which is a privilege and an honour to be selected. So it’s disappointing that we came up short and didn’t play our best.”
Knicks head coach, Mike Woodson, could see only benefits from the trip, highlighting the time the team had together as being important in their win.
“From day one, I was excited about it [coming to Europe] because it breaks our season up, gives us an opportunity to get away with our families and bond together,” said Woodson.
“I thought we did that and in doing that, the guys treated it like a regular season game. They came out ready to play and do what they needed to do to secure the win.”
It was hot shooting in the first quarter from forward Carmelo Anthony that allowed the Knicks to establish an early lead in the game, as he racked up 11 of his team’s 29 first period points. Anthony received support in the second quarter thanks to contributions from Amar’e Stoudemire and J.R Smith off the bench as the Knicks led the Pistons 56-41 at half-time.
After the break, Detroit looked like a different side, outscoring New York 12-1 early in the third period to cut the lead to 65-57 before the Knicks took control of the game again, closing it out from the free throw line for a 102-87 victory.
With the NBA’s Deputy Commissioner, Adam Silver, saying before the game that no decision had been on whether the UK would host another NBA regular season game next season, the New York Knicks victory at the O2 may be the last in the country for at least a year.
As for pre-season games? Manchester looks to be the next destination on the NBA’s horizon.