And the season drags on. The Sacramento Kings have hit yet another drought in a season full of them, and Tuesday, it was the Detroit Pistons turn to get right against the struggling Kings. Losers of 10 of their last 12, the Pistons certainly looked ripe for the taking early on. The Kings had great energy in the first quarter and shot to a double-digit lead. But unsurprisingly, it was not sustainable. Sacramento’s offense hit the skids in the second half, falling to atrocious levels. Detroit happily took advantage, overtaking the Kings for an easy 99-89 victory.
SECOND HALF NOSEDIVE – In truth, the Kings downfall started in the second quarter, but things really took a turn for the worse after halftime. The third quarter was a disaster, as the Kings once sound offense fell apart. The team shot a terrible 4-for-20 en route to 11 third-quarter points. Many shots were taken from the perimeter, from which the Kings were ice-cold. When Sacramento got to the line, it didn’t get much better — the Kings went 4-for-11 from the line in the first 16 minutes of the second half.
COUSINS BRINGS THE EFFORT – While he struggled offensively right along with his teammates, DeMarcus Cousins (38 MIN, 13 PTS, 5-15 FG, 3-6 FT, 14 REB, 6 BLK, 1 STL, 1 AST, 5 TO) could not be accused of mailing this one in. Right from the jump, Cousins was an energetic contributor, particuarly defensively. Cousins was tracking down loose balls and forcing Pistons mistakes, but the most impressive feature of his game was his shot-blocking. Cousins swatted a career-high six shots, coming in a variety of situations — help defense, at the rim, man-to-man. Taking away individual improvements is what this season has boiled down to for the Kings, and Cousins’ becoming a capable shot-blocker would be a huge asset for the team.
NEW LINEUP FOR COACH MALONE – In a late change, Coach Michael Malone swapped out Jason Thompson for Reggie Evans in the starting lineup. It could be said that the move was successful, as the Kings held a 23-16 lead when Evans checked out at 2:48 in the first quarter. Evans (22 MIN, 6 PTS, 3-6 FG, 8 REB, 3 STL, 2 TO) brought his typical high energy, especially on the offensive glass where his ability to create second chances for his teammates is unmatched. Jason Thompson (14 MIN, 3 PTS, 1-3 FG, 1-5FT, 7 REB) entered the game at the center spot — his ability to play both big positions has long been a useful asset for him as a reserve. Aside from his disgusting free throw stroke, Thompson played a decent game. It’s unclear of Malone’s future lineup plans, but here’s one suggestion — Evans against larger opponents (Andre Drummond) and Derrick Williams against more mobile opponents (Thaddeus Young on Wednesday?). Both have produced in starting roles, and Thompson is ideal as a third big man.
OTHER OBSERVATIONS – Ray McCallum (12 MIN, 9 PTS, 4-5 FG, 1-1 3FG) played in front of his home crowd and continued to shoot the ball well. His role was limited, however … Isaiah Thomas (39 MIN, 19 PTS, 6-15 FG, 0-4 3FG, 7-9 FT, 8 AST, 4 REB, 5 TO) managed to post a solid stat line but he struggled to find much room to operate. His outside shot was spotty, and his dribble drives were not rewarded with foul calls … Sacramento has now turned the ball over 40 times in the last two games.