March 20, 2018, 12:59 am
An impressive game Saturday night in Utah gave fans a good idea of how good this young core can be, but not all games will go so smoothly. The Kings were able to keep up with the Pistons through first two quarters on Monday, but the team struggled to keep up in the second half.
Sacramento’s performance in the first quarter didn’t inspire much confidence. The loss of Bogdan Bogdanovic, who ended up sitting out with a hamstring injury, made it tough for the team to settle into a rhythm offensively. Buddy Hield took over for him in the starting lineup, and while he has done a great job as both a passer and scorer in recent games, the Kings needed someone like Bogdanovic to help De’Aaron Fox run the offense.
On the other end of the floor, things weren’t much better. Zach Randolph couldn’t do much to stop Blake Griffin or Andre Drummond, and the Pistons were clearly looking to take advantage. The rest of the starting lineup did a nice job rotating and helping Randolph, but they were still forced to give up open looks when the Pistons were able to make the extra pass.
Things didn’t improve much for the Kings early in the second quarter, but the Pistons’ own struggles kept the game from getting out of control. Vince Carter and Garrett Temple did a great job of settling the team down as the quarter went on, allowing the Kings to eventually take their first lead of the game.
One of the keys to Sacramento’s success early on was their ability to keep Drummond and Griffin off the glass. The two big men combined for just three offensive rebounds, and while Griffin was able to make an impact offensively, Drummond finished with just four points on seven shots.
The Kings elected to start the second half with the exact group that started the game, but they looked much more comfortable on offense the second time around. The ball movement was much crisper, and players were making quick decisions with the ball.
While the Kings finally looked better offensively, their inability to stop Griffin kept them from building any momentum. The Kings did a good job of reacting early and paying more attention to Griffin, but there still wasn’t much they still couldn’t do much to stop him. The Pistons struggled as soon as he went to the bench, but they still ended up taking a 73-66 lead into the fourth quarter.
The opening minutes of the fourth were some of the worst of the night for the Kings. The team put themselves in a tough position with three early fouls, and the offense struggled to generate any good looks at the rim. Part of the team’s issue was their inability to hit open shots. Detroit was able to take away driving lanes, and the Kings were unable to make them pay for it.
Dave Joerger elected to go young with 7:22 to play, and while the team did show some flashes, Detroit was too much to stop in the end. Stan Van Gundy was forced to take a time out to settle things down shortly after the lineup change, but a quick run afterwards kept the game out of reach.
A 106-90 loss at home will always be tough to stomach, but there were some encouraging stretches of play throughout. The team will now have two days off before returning to the Golden One Center Thursday night against the Atlanta Hawks.