By James Ham and Rui Thomas
The Sacramento Kings need a savior, or simply DeMarcus Cousins. With the star center sitting out a ninth straight contest (viral meningitis), the home team dropped their third game in a row against a hapless Detroit Pistons squad, 95-90.
The Kings, who entered tonight last in the NBA in 3-point makes, started hot with the deep ball. Through halftime Sacramento was 7-of-14 from behind the arc despite shooting 39 percent from the floor. The Kings once again struggled to control the ball with 11 turnovers at the half, but the Pistons lost nine of their own which negated the carelessness.
Then the Kings face-planted coming out of the break. Sacramento began the third quarter 0-of-10 from the floor and allowed Detroit to open a 11-0 run before steadying the ship. By the end of the third, the Kings shot 5-of-28 (17.9 percent) field goals and 2-of-8 free throws while getting outscored 24-14 in the tough 12 minutes.
“That’s the story right there,” Darren Collison noted after the game. “Obviously the third quarter is the most important quarter. You look at our last five or six games, our third quarter has a lot to do with the way we’re finishing out games. Whether we’re up by 10, we’re losing leads, whatever the case may be, our third quarter is not where it needs to be.”
By the buzzer, Sacramento ran out of steam. For the game, the Pistons outraced the Kings 31 to nine in fast break points. Sacramento outrebounded Detroit by 12 and collected 22 offensive boards, but couldn’t find their legs on second chance opportunities. The Kings shot 26.7 percent from behind the arc in the second half.
“The key to the game, you can’t give up 31 fast break points,” stated Michael Malone. “They had 13 in the first half. They had 18 fast break points in the second half. And to start the game, it was Andre Drummond outrunning us for dunk, dunk.”
The Kings finished the match shooting 35.5 percent from the floor. Rudy Gay led his team with 20 points, but on 6-of-22 shots.
“Give them credit,” added Malone. “You could tell their game plan. Without DeMarcus, Rudy is our go-to guy. So they were very aggressive on his post-ups, they were very aggressive on his pick-and-rolls.”
Ben McLemore added 14 points and six rebounds, and Carl Landry notched 15 points and 11 rebounds. Sacramento’s starting backcourt of McLemore and Darren Collison shot a combined 6-for-24.
Josh Smith dominated both sides of the ball for the Pistons with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, five blocks and seven turnovers. Andre Drummond recorded 12 points and eight rebounds, and Kyle Singler scored 11. Greg Monroe produced 24 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Ryan Hollins started the game at center for the Kings after his father passed away this morning. The locker room was noticeably somber before and after the match.
Sacramento falls to 11-13 on the season and 2-8 without DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup. The Kings will host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.
Notes and Analysis
- Carl Landry bounced back from a series of lackluster performances, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench. This marked the second time this season Landry has come away with a double-double.
- Rudy Gay came out of the shoot aggressive and with a new approach. After averaging just 2.7 3-point attempts per game on the season, Gay took a season-high seven long balls, while connecting on four of them. Gay finished with 20 points, but shot an atrocious 6-for-22 from the floor. He added eight assists and eight rebounds in the loss, but the Kings need more while Cousins is out.
- Darren Collison had an off night tonight, finishing with three points on 1-for-10 shooting. The Kings starting point guard had opportunities down the stretch for redemption, but came up empty time and time again.
- Jason Thompson struggled with foul trouble, but still came away with a productive eight-point, seven-rebound performance in 20 minutes. His inability to stay on the floor hurt his team tonight.
- Ben McLemore struggled from the field, shooting just 5-of-14 from the field for 14 points. The second-year guard hit 4-of-8 from downtown, but he looked lost all night long.
- Nik Stauskas added a nice punch off the bench. The rookie finished with seven points on 3-of-9 shooting in 16 minutes. Stauskas was part of a run to end the third that got the Kings back in the game, but he struggled to shoot just 1-of-5 from behind the arc.
- Derrick Williams couldn’t buy a bucket, but that didn’t stop him from having a productive night. The veteran wing scored eight points on just 3-for-11 shooting and added six rebounds in 24 minutes.
- With his starter struggling, coach Malone turned to second-year point guard Ray McCallum instead of Ramon Sessions. In 18 minutes, the former Detroit Mercy star dropped in seven points and two assists.
- Stat of the Night: The Sacramento Kings shot 35.5 percent from the field and turned the ball over 17 times against a four-win team playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.
Quote of the Game
Michael Malone on subtle improvements in the Kings offense
“To be very honest, I wasn’t overly disappointed with the offense tonight. I thought there was a lot of improvement in our executing and with our ball movement. I thought that in the third quarter we got a little stagnant and tried to do too much because we were struggling. Overall I wasn’t overly disappointed. I judged it on whether or not we got good looks instead of making the shots. I thought we got a lot of good looks tonight that just didn’t go for us.”