Instant Replay: Kings hold off Pistons, end five-game skid

Instant Replay: Kings hold off Pistons, end five-game skid


The Kings needed a win in a big way Monday night in Detroit and that is exactly what they got. After losing five straight, Sacramento outlasted the Pistons at the Palace at Auburn Hills to come away with a huge 109-104 road victory.

Ty Lawson put on the jets and ran circles around the Pistons backcourt. The veteran reserve poured in 19 points and handed out six assists in 22 minutes of action off coach Dave Joerger’s bench.

It took a while to get DeMarcus Cousins going, but the 6-foot-11 big man found his game in the second quarter. Cousins stuffed the stat sheet on his way to a 22-point, 14-rebound, six-assist night. He shot just 8-of-21 from the floor and turned the ball over six times, but he was a big part of the win.

With Cousins struggling early, Joerger received big contributions from just about everyone who entered the game, including the bench, which outscored the Pistons reserves 52-30 on the night.

Willie Cauley-Stein has found playing scarce this season, but he took advantage of his opportunity in Detroit. The second-year big scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds with the second unit. He brought an energy and excitement that the Kings desperately needed.

Darren Collison dropped in 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting. Matt Barnes went for 10 points and added eight rebounds and Garrett Temple chipped in 11 points and dished out four assists.

Reggie Jackson attacked the Kings defense, scoring 18 points and handing out 11 assists, but like the rest of the Pistons guards, he had no answer for Lawson.

The Kings left Jon Leuer open and the veteran forward torched them early. Leuer dropped in all 15 of his points in the first quarter, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, but foul trouble derailed him in the second half.

Tobias Harris tossed in 15 points off Stan Van Gundy’s bench. Marcus Morris hit for 13 points and All-Star center Andre Drummond finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Lawson was the best player on the floor for most of the night. The dynamic point guard used his speed and quickness to get into the paint and created for both himself and his teammates.

The bench took control in the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 11 points at the 7:13 mark with a Lawson 3-ball. Detroit cut into the Kings lead down the stretch, but the visiting team found a way to sneak out the win.

Gay was scheduled to undergo surgery on his left Achilles tendon in New York on Monday. He is officially out for the season. Omri Casspi continues to be sidelined by a strained calf muscle. The original diagnosis last Monday had him sitting an estimated 1-2 weeks.  

The Kings continue their season-long eight-game road trip Wednesday against the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Following the Cavs game, Sacramento travels to Indiana, followed by Charlotte for a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday against the Pacers and Hornets.


Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons


Joerger faces tough decision with Bogdanovic out vs Pistons

SACRAMENTO -- It’s time for some home cooking. The Sacramento Kings open a six-game homestand Monday night at Golden 1 Center. They’ll host a struggling Detroit Pistons team that has lost three straight and seven of their last eight.

The Kings battled the Utah Jazz all the way down the wire Saturday evening at Vivint Smart Home Arena, before falling in the final minute. Buddy Hield put up 20-plus points for his third straight game to lead Sacramento.

Detroit looked like a playoff team for much of the season and then the wheels fell off their bus. They have plenty of talent, but so far, they are struggling to find chemistry since acquiring All-Star Blake Griffin at the deadline.

Pistons by 3.5

Skal Labissiere vs. Blake Griffin -- The Kings have struggled to contain Griffin throughout his career. Whether he starts or not, second-year big Skal Labissiere is likely to see plenty of time against the high-scoring power forward. Labissiere is averaging 11.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 27 minutes a game in March. He needs to move his feet and avoid foul trouble against Griffin.

Kings: 23-48, fourth place in Pacific

Pistons: 30-39, fourth place in Central

Kings: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (left hamstring soreness) out, SG/SF Iman Shumpert (knee rehab/plantar fasciitis) out, PF Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out for the season.

Pistons: PG Reggie Jackson (ankle) out, PF Jon Leuer (ankle) out.

Decisions, Decisions -- With Bogdanovic out for the evening, Dave Joerger has a tough choice to make. Does he elevate Hield into the starting lineup and disrupt his bench unit? Or does he start veteran Garrett Temple alongside De’Aaron Fox. Hield has earned a look with the starters, but he’s on fire with the second team.

Keep Fighting -- Plenty of fans want the Kings to lay down and preserve their spot in the NBA’s Draft Lottery. The Kings are trying to build a winning culture around a group of young players. They are developing an identity as the season heads towards its conclusion and there is no reason to let up.

Shoot the 3-ball -- The Kings trail only the Golden State Warriors in 3-point percentage. They hit 14-of-21 from behind the arc against the Jazz, but that’s not enough. The goal should be 30 threes per game from here on out. The team has the shooters, they just need to hoist it up more often.

The Pistons lead the season series 1-0 and are looking for the sweep. Detroit holds a 134-119 advantage over the Kings all-time and a 37-26 edge during the Sacramento-era.

Buddy Hield is evolving, playing the best basketball of his career

Buddy Hield is evolving, playing the best basketball of his career

Take your tank emojis and throw them out the window. The Sacramento Kings are young, inexperienced and every once in a while, they throw up a complete dud. They are also scrappy and talented and improving with every game.

Saturday evening in Utah, they gave one of the hottest teams in the NBA 48 minutes of fight. In fact, they’ve been going to toe-to-toe with some of the game’s best and holding their own for a while now.

After playing Friday night at Golden State, the Kings made the late night flight to Utah to play on the second night of a back-to-back. With the quick turnaround, Dave Joerger turned to a starting lineup void of veterans. Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos each saw time off the bench, but the first team was comprised of three rookies, a second-year player and third-year big Willie Cauley-Stein.

The future was on full display and the group had every opportunity to come away with their third straight victory. In the end, it wasn’t enough. 

The Jazz made free throws and got stops in the final 60 seconds to pull out a 103-97 win over the Kings. It was another learning experience for Sacramento in a season filled with learning experiences.

As the season winds down, the goal is to find silver linings in each contest. Despite playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Kings fought through the exhaustion against a team that has won nine straight and 21 of their previous 23 games. 

De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdanovic are the backcourt of the present and the future in Sacramento. They’ve stolen the headlines with clutch shots over the last few games, but there is another young King putting in some of his best work.

Buddy Hield has come alive for Sacramento. The second-year shooting guard out of Oklahoma is playing the best basketball of his career down the stretch for the Kings and it goes well beyond his ability to knock down a jumper.

For the third straight game, Hield posted 20 points or more. He finished the night with a team-high 23 on 9-of-15 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 from behind the arc. That is what Buddy Buckets is paid to do - score baskets. But over the last few contests, Hield is finding ways to make his teammates better. 

In 34 of his 68 games coming into Saturday evening’s contest, Hield had dished out one assist or less, including 17 games without handing out a single dime. That’s not going to work in today’s NBA. 

His assist percentage of 11.6 is seventh lowest on the team, behind players like Cauley-Stein and veteran big man Zach Randolph and it’s the lowest amongst the Kings’ guards by far. 

While it’s a small sample size, Hield appears to be making strides in this area. He has been noticeably more generous with the ball, handing out 16 assists in his last three games. He’s led the Kings in assists in the last two games and the second unit is feeding off his team play. 

Sharing is caring in the NBA. With Hield acting as a distributor, his teammates are reciprocating. He’s getting open looks from the perimeter and over his last three games, he’s knocked down 12-of-25 from behind the arc. 

Led by Hield, the Kings’ bench has outscored the team’s last three opponents second unit by an incredible 163-54. The performance of the bench mob has helped Sacramento pick up wins over playoff teams in the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors and they kept the Kings in the game against Utah all the way down the stretch. 

The Kings’ young core is developing. They are showing massive signs of improvement at almost every position. The team is playing hard and they’re developing an identity. They are even picking up a few wins along the way.