Kings carry nine-game losing streak into Detroit
The Detroit Pistons saw their energy level wane earlier this week on the second end of a back-to-back. They hope their opponent will experience the same issue when they host the Sacramento Kings on Friday.
Sacramento, which is saddled with a nine-game losing streak, will be playing for the second straight night. The Kings were thrashed by the Knicks 140-121 on Thursday in New York.
A short-handed Pistons team got outscored 32-22 in the fourth quarter on Wednesday in a 128-118 road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Detroit had defeated the host Orlando Magic 105-93 on Tuesday.
Detroit's leading scorer, Jerami Grant, was rested against the Pelicans. Starting point guard Delon Wright is out with a groin injury, and former All-Star Blake Griffin isn't playing as the team seeks to deal him.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey wants to take advantage of being the fresher team on Friday.
"That's what I told them -- just remember how this felt on Friday night because we get Sacramento on a back-to-back," he said. "(New Orleans) came out with a purpose of running us and they did a good job of running us. For whatever reason, we ran out of gas down the stretch. It's not an excuse, but let's remember that."
Grant and his 23.3 point average will return to the lineup on Friday. The Pistons played three rookies -- Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Saben Lee -- on Wednesday, and they all produced double-digit point totals.
Their highest pick in the November draft -- Killian Hayes -- is out indefinitely due to a hip injury.
"That's why it's exciting to think about the future," Casey said. "Add some pieces, make some moves, whatever it is. But the foundation is being built in front of us -- right now."
Reclamation project Josh Jackson continues to shine for Detroit. He had 25 points, six rebounds and three assists at New Orleans.
The fourth pick of the 2017 draft, Jackson joined the Pistons as a free agent in December. He is averaging 17.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists this month despite his second-unit role.
The Kings were second best virtually all game against the Knicks on Thursday, never leading after the first quarter and never getting closer than five points after halftime.
Sacramento coach Luke Walton smacked down a clipboard during a timeout as he watched his team allow the Knicks to shoot 58.6 percent from the field.
"I'm frustrated. We all should be frustrated," he said. "I don't know if I can say it's the most frustrated I've been. ... The frustration (as a coach) comes out at times. You can't hit people, you can't run up and down and get it out. Look, I was frustrated tonight."
The Kings' defense has been carved up throughout the slide. Sacramento has allowed at least 118 points in each of the nine defeats while falling eight games below .500.
"I know that when our group is playing well, we're much better than we showed tonight," Walton said. "But I also know if we don't play with not just physical effort but mental effort at this level, then it's going to be hard to win games."
As Sacramento completes a five-game road trip on Friday, Walton's job status seems tenuous at best. However, the coach feels he still has the support of his bosses.
"As far as pressure from the front office, no," he said. "I feel very connected with them and very locked in as far as where we're at and where we're trying to go as a group."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 26, 2021