The Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons are both rebuilding, and it's clear that their rookie point guards continue to provide excellent building blocks.
Both seem to be slumping now.
Irving was chosen No. 1 by Cleveland (17-30) and Knight at No. 8 by Detroit (17-32), and both teams have to be happy with their selections. The Cavaliers guard leads all rookies with 18.6 points per game, with Knight second at 12.5.
Cleveland has won both meetings against Detroit this season, with Irving scoring 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter of a 101-100 home victory Feb. 21. Knight had 24 points in the defeat, with seven in the fourth.
Knight is averaging 23.5 points on 72.0 percent shooting against Cleveland - his best marks against any opponent in his brief career. He outscored Irving 23-14 in a 105-89 home loss Dec. 28.
Irving, though, didn't look like himself Tuesday in a 103-85 home loss to Philadelphia, making 4 of 13 shots for 12 points and seven assists. He is averaging 13.7 points in his last three games.
"I have played a few games in the league now, so teams have enough film on me to know my strengths and weaknesses, and they are trying to take it away," he said. "They are doing a great job of that."
Knight, meanwhile, made 3 of 13 shots for eight points in Monday's 79-77 victory at Washington. He's totaled 17 points, nine assists and seven turnovers over consecutive games.
Detroit is feeling better about itself after ending a four-game slide Monday on Rodney Stuckey's winning 20-foot jumper with 0.2 seconds left. Stuckey returned after missing three games with a sore left big toe.
"Hard work is paying off. I'm constantly in the gym just getting extra shots up," said Stuckey, who made 9 of 20 shots. "My shot's just improving and I'm going to continue just to get better."
Detroit has split the first two games of a four-game trip. The club felt snake-bit on its last trip, losing in overtime to the Clippers and by one to Denver last Wednesday.
"It's nice to win in kind of a walk-off way as well especially since some of the losses we've had as of late," coach Lawrence Frank said. "Our guys showed some resolve and fight and found a way to win the game."
The Pistons will be trying to end a nine-game road losing streak against Central Division opponents.
Cleveland has dropped four straight, falling 6 1/2 games behind New York for the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. The Cavs have fallen behind by an average of 9.0 points after one quarter in their last three defeats, which have been by an average of 18.6 points.
"It seems like that has been the formula the last few games, and to go along with that, it just seems like our guys have lost some confidence," coach Byron Scott said. "We have been through this before."
- Detroit Pistons