Foul shooting, too many second-chance points allowed foils Pistons in loss to Kings
Chris Schwegler (NBAE via Getty Images)
Three quick observations from Friday night’s 110-107 loss to the Sacramento Kings at Little Caesars Arena
SQUANDERED CHANCE – The Pistons haven’t had many games playing on rest against an opponent coming off a back to back and they’ll regret squandering the chance they had on Friday. The Sacramento Kings played at New York on Thursday night – and got thumped, giving up 140 points – but the Pistons had trouble generating much offense most of the night. They built an eight-point lead with nine minutes to go, but Sacramento rallied to tie midway through the fourth quarter. It was tied at 101 with 1:10 to play when the Kings got a dunk out of a timeout from Harrison Barnes to take the lead. Against the NBA’s last-ranked defense, Sacramento’s, the Pistons ran in mud for 16 minutes, managing just 29 points – on pace to score 87 – and dug themselves a 17-point hole over the opening nine minutes. Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 30 points and hit 14 of 15 free throws. His only miss, snapping a streak of 21 straight makes, came with 1:00 to play and allowed Sacramento to retain a one-point lead that increased to four on Barnes’ triple with 41.4 seconds to play. The Pistons got a dunk from Josh Jackson to pull within two, then Buddy Hield tipped in Barnes’ miss with 12.9 seconds to play to apparently give Sacramento a four-point lead. But Dwane Casey challenged the call and it was overturned, a foul whistled on Hield instead. But Josh Jackson missed the first and then intentionally missed the second. The Pistons had a chance to tie on a Grant three on a last possession but he missed. Grant is shooting 93 percent from the line in February. Grant is a career 69.6 percent foul shooter but he hit 75 percent last season with Denver and came into Friday’s game at 88.7 percent for the Pistons. But Pistons other than Grant were 7 of 17 at the line. That and Sacramento’s offensive rebounding – 14, leading to 19 second-chance points – were critical factors in the Pistons loss.
ROOKIE HOT SHOTS – Sacramento’s Tyrese Haliburton missed Friday’s game with left calf soreness after playing 32 minutes in the Kings’ loss at New York on Thursday and that meant there was no matchup of the NBA’s two most prolific 3-point-shooting rookies. Saddiq Bey, who came into the game second to Haliburton among all rookies in 3-pointers made with 62 to Haliburton’s 71, played after being listed as questionable with a left ankle sprain. He cut Haliburton’s lead by more than half, hitting 5 of 9 triples in a 17-point, six-rebound outing. Bey twisted his ankle in Wednesday’s game at New Orleans, though he re-entered the game after the injury. Haliburton is averaging 13.2 points in 30 minutes a game off of Sacramento’s bench and shooting 43.3 percent on 5.5 3-point attempts per game. Bey is averaging 9.6 points in 22 minutes a game and has moved into the starting lineup with Blake Griffin no longer with the team.
DUNK OF THE YEAR? – Dennis Smith Jr. came out of North Carolina State noted for his upside and his athleticism. Pistons fans who weren’t all that familiar with him got a sudden and emphatic glimpse of it late in Friday’s first half when Smith took the ball from the right wing to the top of the 3-point arc and then attacked the paint, splitting Kings big men Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley III, elevating well above the rim and throwing down perhaps the season’s most exhilarating dunk to date. Smith was part of the sluggish Pistons start and Dwane Casey went to Saben Lee after just five minutes of the first quarter, so Smith didn’t get back in the game until five minutes were left in the half and the dunk was his only first-half basket. But he showed good pick-and-roll chemistry with rookie Isaiah Stewart, picking up assists on two Stewart layups, and scored 11 points in the third quarter. Smith finished with 17 points, six assists and zero turnovers. Lee, averaging 15.3 points over the previous three games, finished with eight points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.