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Hart hits go-ahead basket after chaotic possession, Knicks beat Pistons 113-111

Jalen Brunson Josh Hart Knicks Pistons
New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, left, celebrates with Josh Hart, right, after Hart was fouled by the Detroit Pistons during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

NEW YORK (AP) — Jalen Brunson missed a 3-pointer, eventually got the ball back and passed it to Josh Hart for the go-ahead basket.

In between were three turnovers and a missed foul call in one of the most chaotic and controversial possessions of the season.

Hart ended it with a layup with 2.8 seconds left and the New York Knicks beat the Detroit Pistons 113-111 on Monday night.

“We won. This is the NBA, man. We don’t care how we win. We don’t care how ugly it is,” Hart said.

Brunson had 35 points and 12 assists for the Knicks, and it was his missed 3-point attempt with 20 seconds remaining that started the wild back-and-forth that led to Hart’s basket and left Pistons coach Monty Williams irate afterward.

Detroit chased down the rebound but threw it away, then appeared to recover when Ausur Thompson stole a pass by Donte DiVincenzo. But then Thompson lost the ball during a collision with DiVincenzo along the sideline, the Knicks came up with it and Brunson found Hart under the basket for his layup while being fouled.

“Donte dove for the ball and the ball came loose and then I looked at the clock, looked up the floor, saw Josh was open and just got around their defense and hit him,” Brunson said.

Brunson, however, never should have got the ball back. Referees determined afterward that DiVincenzo fouled Thompson.

“Upon postgame review, we determined that Thompson gets to the ball first, and then was deprived of the opportunity to gain possession of the ball,” crew chief James Williams said. “Therefore, a loose-ball foul should have been whistled on New York’s Donte DiVincenzo.”

After the Pistons lost their sixth straight, Williams went onto the court to yell at one of the officials near where Thompson went down.

“The absolute worst call of the season,” Williams said during his brief postgame remarks. “No call, and enough’s enough.”

It left the Pistons with the same anger the Knicks had after a Feb. 12 loss in Houston, when officials said afterward they shouldn’t have called a foul on Brunson with 0.3 seconds remaining, giving Aaron Holiday the free throws that gave the Rockets a 105-103 victory. The Knicks have filed a protest with the NBA.

“I’d say livid,” Detroit guard Cade Cunningham said. “That’s the word of the day. Livid.”

Hart added 23 points and DiVincenzo had 21 for the Knicks, who beat the Pistons for the 14th straight time.

Cunningham scored 32 and Jalen Duren had 11 points and 16 rebounds for Detroit.

It was a wild ending to the first meeting between the teams since a Feb. 8 trade that brought Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks to New York and sent Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier, and Malachi Flynn to Detroit. Grimes received mostly cheers the first time he entered, but Fournier, who had long been out of coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation, was booed when he came in and the first few times he had the ball.

Grimes’ basket gave the Pistons a 111-110 lead with 37 seconds remaining before the sequence that started with Brunson’s missed 3.

Grimes chased it down in the corner and threw the ball back into the middle to teammate Simone Fontecchio. Hart stole it from Fontecchio and the Knicks got it to DiVincenzo, who threw it away but then regained it from Thompson along the sideline by appearing to crash into the rookie’s legs.

“I was very confused when I was on the ground and the play kept going, I’m not gonna lie,” Thompson said. “But, I mean, that’s how it goes.”

The Knicks were playing the first of two games in two nights, though at least got to play both at home. This game was originally scheduled for Detroit, but the NBA moved it to New York to better balance the Knicks’ schedule after they had to play two extra games on the road at Milwaukee and Boston after advancing to the knockout stage of the In-Season Tournament.

For more on the Knicks, visit AMNY.com