Originally published on SacramentoPress.com on March 15, 2012
The Sacramento Kings ran out of gas as they fell to the Detroit Pistons 124-112 Wednesday night at Power Balance Pavilion.
The Kings suffered another loss on the court, losing guard Tyreke Evans to an ankle sprain. Evans came down awkwardly on his ankle after making a layup late in the game. X-rays came up negative and Evans is listed day-to-day.
Following two losses in a row, struggling on both sides of the floor, the Kings came out with an intensity that allowed them to jump out to a big lead against the Pistons.
Forward Jason Thompson played great for the Kings, scoring 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting and grabbing 15 rebounds off the glass.
“Jason is the perfect guy for what we are doing,” coach Keith Smart said after the game. “He just goes out and works, and that’s what a power forward needs to do. Just go out and work and get your points by rebounding and running the floor, and that’s what he’s doing.”
Evans opened up the game aggressively, scoring six points in the first three minutes. His effort translated to points and a quick-paced game filled with high energy from the rest of the Kings.
Unlike the previous two losses, Sacramento was moving the ball well, finishing with nine assists in the first quarter and leading 32-25. Tuesday night, the Kings finished with just 11 assists total against the Warriors.
Sacramento continued its strong execution in the second quarter, building their lead up to 16 points at one point. But following a 9-0 run by the Pistons, Sacramento only had a 48-41 lead with a little over four minutes before halftime.
Detroit finished those four minutes strong, bringing the Kings lead to just one heading into the locker room.
Much like Tuesday night, the game got out of hand in the third quarter, with the Pistons able to score however they wished on the offensive side of the floor. The porous Kings defense gave up 40 points to Detroit in the third quarter alone.
Kings rookie guard Isaiah Thomas may have not been in the league too long but he knows that it's difficult to win games in the NBA while giving up so many points in one quarter.
"That third quarter opened it up, they had 40 points in that third quarter," Thomas said. "You're not going to win a game if you give up 40 points in a quarter."
The Pistons show 75 percent from the field and knocked down five three-pointers in the third quarter. Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey made four of those and finished 4-of-6 from three-point range and with a game-high 35 points and six assists. In all, Detroit’s offense was hitting on all cylinders.
“These guys came out and played well, shot well, turned the corner,” Smart said of the Pistons offense. “They come off real fast, they force you to over-help and they don’t waste much time to shoot the shots that they shot.”
With the game already out of hand, the Kings were unable to mount a comeback, eventually falling by a final score of 124-112. The 124 points given up to the Pistons were by far the most points Detroit has scored this season, as they were averaging just 89 points per game.
As bad as the loss was, Smart saw improvement in his team.
“I thought we made a step,” Smart said. “As bad as it is, there were a lot of things we did that were OK in this game.”
The players know it was a winnable game but remain optimistic that they will continue to grow together and get this team going in the right direction.
“This is one of the games we should have had,” Kings forward Thompson said. “We should have had one last night and should have had one tonight, but just gotta look at this and look at the film and get better.”