Pistons at Kings Game Preview
While the Detroit Pistons have played well enough to move back into the Eastern Conference playoff mix in the Eastern Conference, struggles on the road against the West threaten to derail their momentum. Those woes have yet to extend to Sacramento.
The Pistons continue a five-game trip Wednesday night when they visit the Kings.
Detroit (15-27) has slowly turned things around after a miserable start, recording 11 of its 15 wins since the start of February.
With four wins in six games, the Pistons have climbed back into the fringe of playoff contention. They are currently 11th in the East, three games behind New York and Milwaukee, which are tied for the final spot.
However, the next few weeks could be difficult for Detroit, which lost 105-90 at Utah on Monday to open a five-game road tip against Western Conference opponents. The Pistons have lost 17 straight road games - five this season by an average of 15.4 points - versus teams from the West.
Detroit, which has also dropped four straight on the road overall, plays eight of its next nine away from home.
If there's a silver lining for the Pistons, it's that their last road victory versus the West came at Sacramento, a 100-94 win Nov. 14, 2010. They've won their last three road games against the Kings, and the last four overall meetings in the series.
The Pistons let the Jazz connect on 7 of 11 3-point attempts and shoot 54.2 percent overall during Monday's loss. Detroit managed to close within two points of the Jazz in the fourth quarter despite those numbers, but Utah ended the game on an 18-3 run.
Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 29 points while Greg Monroe added 14 in the defeat.
"We just weren't executing on the offensive end coming down the stretch," Monroe told the Pistons' official website. "Tonight definitely didn't turn out how we wanted it to. We have to go watch some tape, see what we did wrong, but we have a lot more games left on this road trip."
After Wednesday, Detroit will visit Phoenix, the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver to close its trip. The best opportunity to win on the swing may come versus Sacramento (14-28), which has the second-worst record in the West.
The Kings have lost six of eight and two straight, including a 115-89 home loss Tuesday to a Golden State team playing short-handed after trading Monta Ellis.
"We thought because they didn't have Monta Ellis and stuff, we thought it was going to be easy on ourselves," said Sacramento's Tyreke Evans, who had 16 points. "I thought we just stopped playing. They just got whatever they wanted."
Tuesday's loss dropped the Kings to 2-2 on a franchise-record nine-game homestand, which had opened in promising fashion with wins over New Orleans and Dallas. They've been outrebounded in all four games while allowing opposing teams to shoot 50.3 percent.
The Pistons defeated the Kings 114-108 at home Feb. 17, when Stuckey scored 36 points and Tayshaun Prince added 22 and 10 rebounds.