A lackluster effort against a short-handed Golden State Warriors team resulted in a second consecutive home loss for the Sacramento Kings.  They try to erase the memory of yesterday’s blowout against the Detroit Pistons.
Gametime: 7 pm PST
Broadcast Information: Click here.
For perspective on the Hawks, visit fellow TrueHoop Network blog Piston Powered.

Kings Probable Starters (14-28)

Isaiah ThomasMarcus ThorntonTyreke EvansJason ThompsonDeMarcus Cousins

Tonight’s meeting with the Pistons is the fifth game of a nine-game homestand.  So far, the Kings have split the first four contests, winning against the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Hornets and losing to the Atlanta Hawks and Warriors.  A victory tonight would match last season’s 11 home-win total.

Pistons Probable Starters (15-27)

Brandon Knight
Rodney StuckeyTayshaun PrinceJason MaxiellGreg Monroe

Detroit is a respectable 4-3 since the All-Star Break.  Before a fourth quarter collapse that resulted in a 105-90 loss to Utah, the Pistons had won three-straight games.  Rodney Stuckey seems to have finally turned the corner. The Pistons guard has scored 20 or more points in five of Detroit’s last six games.

3-on-3 Roundtable

You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.

Dan Feldman and Patrick Hayes of Piston Powered join me to preview today’s Kings/Pistons game.

1. Match-up to watch?

Dan Feldman Greg Monroe vs. DeMarcus Cousins will always and forever be the match-up to watch in this game. Bill Simmons’ comparison of the two in his trade value column should only intensify the debate.

Patrick Hayes: Cousins-Monroe is the easy answer, but I’m intrigued by Rodney Stuckey vs. Tyreke Evans. Stuckey over the last month has been like a more-disciplined version of Evans — basically, just being a basket-attacking wrecking ball who gets to the line at will. Who plays the best out of the two big, strong guards who like to score and are unafraid of contact should have more impact on the outcome than the Cousins/Monroe match-up, which I’m expecting to be about even.

Jonathan Santiago: Greg Monroe vs. DeMarcus Cousins.  In their last match-up, Cousins outclassed Monroe. The Kings center scored 26 points and snatched 15 rebounds while Monroe recorded only three points on 1-for-7 shooting and eight rebounds.  However, the Pistons big man finished with the stat that mattered most – a six-point win.

2. Stat that decides the game..

Dan Feldman Sacramento’s effective field-goal percentage. The Kings don’t shoot efficiently, but the Pistons’ opponents typically do. It’s important for the Pistons to force Sacramento into tough looks.

Patrick Hayes: Bench production. The last time these teams played, Ben Gordon and Jonas Jerebko gave the Pistons 24 points off the bench. Detroit doesn’t always get that kind of scoring from its second unit, so if Gordon, Jerebko or Ben Wallace (just kidding) can have a big offensive game, the Pistons stand a much better chance at matching Sacramento’s multiple scoring threats.

Jonathan Santiago: Three-point percentage.  Last night, the Kings allowed Golden State to make 12-of-24 three-point attempts, including 5-for-9 from reserve Brandon Rush.  Three-point shooting also killed the Kings down the stretch in Detroit, who trailed only only one point before back-to-back makes by Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey.

3. Which team is closer to returning to relevance: the Kings or Pistons?

Dan Feldman That is a great question. I have no idea, and the easy answer is whoever picks higher in this summer’s draft. I think a playoff berth is a rough measure of relevance, so I’ll take the Pistons, because the road to the post-season is easier in the Eastern Conference.

Patrick Hayes: This is a tough one, actually. Until six weeks or so ago, I probably would’ve given the edge to Sacramento. Both teams have nice collections of young, improving talent, but the Kings don’t have the multiple burdensome contracts to under-performing vets that Detroit is stuck with. But recently, Stuckey has looked like a player who will easily out-play the $8 million per year extension he signed and Prince has shown signs of fitting better with his young teammates, something he wasn’t doing much of early. I’d probably still give a slight edge to Sacramento, but both teams are headed in a good direction talent-wise.

Jonathan Santiago: I think Detroit is where Sacramento was last year, with the Knight and Monroe duo looking just as promising as Evans and Cousins did in 2011.  However, the answer to this question largely depends on the abilities of their executives, Geoff Petrie and Joe Dumars, and what they do with their respective rosters moving forward.