By Will Burchfield
Twitter @Burchie_kid

AUBURN HILLS (CBS DETROIT) – The Pistons knew Carmelo Anthony was going to get his looks on Tuesday night.

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They also knew they had a dynamic scorer to match him.

Marcus Morris didn’t let his teammates down, putting up 22 points and going toe-to-toe with one of the best offensive players in the NBA. When the dust had settled after four quarters at The Palace, it was Pistons 102-Knicks 89, Morris 1-Melo 0.

“That was fun, that was fun,” said a smiling Ish Smith afterward. (Then again, when isn’t Ish Smith smiling?) “Both of those guys are really good one-on-one players and that was fun to watch. Sometimes you just gotta get out of the way and let those two guys do their thing. Luckily, we had Marcus on our end tonight.”

Anthony lived up to the billing as well, tallying 24 points. But Morris was far more efficient, draining 9 of 14 shots compared to 8 of 18 for Anthony.

“He took the challenge there,” said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. “It’s a difficult thing, because he knows he’s not going to get as many attempts as Carmelo is. We just play a little different.”

Not to worry. Morris made his shots count, pouring in nine points in the first quarter and then seven more in the second. He finished the first half with 16 points on 7/9 shooting, including 2/2 from three-point range.

“He brought it tonight. We needed him out there for a lot of plays and he was able to be crucial in a lot of areas, especially in the first half,” said Tobias Harris, who was terrific himself with 25 points and 10 rebounds. “He was able to get a lot of good looks and we kept feeding him and he kept going to work for us. He was really good today.”

Morris’ best sequence against Anthony came toward the end of the second quarter, in the midst of an 11-4 Pistons run. First, he shook the Knicks’ star near the elbow and scored on a driving layup. Anthony, trying to respond, bricked a three-pointer at the other end, triggering a Pistons fast break. Morris joined the rush late, received a great pass from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and swished his shot from beyond the arc.

That forced a Knicks’ timeout and drew fist-pumps and cheers from the hometown fans, as Morris urged them on with his hot right hand.

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As good as Morris was offensively, he was just as strong defensively. He guarded Anthony for much of the game, almost exclusively in the first half. Melo was never able to get into rhythm, in large part because Morris wouldn’t leave him alone.

“Carmelo’s one of the best scorers in the NBA and you know with him that you’re not going to stop him from getting shots up. It’s a matter of making those shots tough,” Harris said.

Morris did just that, with aggressive, up-close-and-personal defense.

The Knicks, an arm’s reach away throughout the game, shaved Detroit’s lead to 94-89 with 5:40 to play. They wouldn’t score again from that point on, with Anthony missing his final three attempts.

“We wanted to focus on the defensive end and we wanted to get stops,” Pope said. “(Morris) really bucked down in the fourth quarter and we got stops on Carmelo to finish the game out.”

While Morris’ offensive performance on Tuesday night was undeniably impressive, it was hardly a surprise to his teammates. Smith, for one, gained an appreciation for Morris’ skillset when he crossed paths with the 6’9 forward on the Phoenix Suns three seasons ago.

“I’m not saying this because he’s my guy, he’s one of the best one-on-one players I’ve ever seen. Even when we were at Phoenix together, him and his brother (Markieff Morris) really worked hard on their one-on-one game. When he gets in that 15-foot range, it’s hard for anybody to stop him.”

The Knicks found that out the hard way at The Palace, from 15 feet and beyond.

For Morris, it was nothing new.

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“Marcus is a very good individual scorer and we’ve seen that against a lot of people,” Van Gundy said. “I think everybody gets up for a matchup against a great player, but I wouldn’t say (he) raised his game, I would say he played his game.”