Game 56 Recap – Pistons 101, Kings 89

Bad, bad defense.

That was the story of this game for the Kings. They played bad defense, the Pistons made their shots and Tyreke Evans was just amazing enough to keep it interesting in the fourth quarter.

The weird thing in looking at this box score is seeing the numbers by both teams. The Kings had 13 team turnovers and the Pistons had 12. The Kings blocked four shots and so did the Pistons. The Kings stole the ball seven times; the Pistons stole the ball six times. The Kings had 18 team assists and Detroit had 16. Both teams had eight offensive rebounds and 26 defensive rebounds. The Kings made four of their 13 three-pointers and the Pistons made four of their 11 attempts from beyond the arc.

So why was this a double-digit loss in which the Kings were never really THAT close after the first quarter? Simply put, the Detroit Pistons just made their shots.

Detroit was led in this game by their triumvirate of Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton. And these three guys absolutely obliterated the Kings early and often enough to create a comfortable lead that ballooned to an embarrassing number throughout the third quarter. When they weren’t dominating, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva came off the bench to provide a spark in the second quarter that helped push the game from “the Kings just being happy to have this be a close contest” to “the Kings needing to get their act together before they get blown out at home. “

Early on, Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton made the lives of Donté Greene and Omri Casspi absolutely miserable. They combined to shoot 9/13 in the first quarter for 19 points, which a lot of was created by the constant penetration of Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons just had to spread the floor or set a little screen for Stuckey and it left Tyreke Evans on his heels and in the dust of the third-year point guard from Eastern Washington.

Aside from the slow defensive feet, Tyreke Evans tried to keep the ball moving and get everyone involved. He was a one-man show for almost the entire ball game until his teammates stepped up in the fourth quarter to provide help that was too late. Evans had a nice first half with 12 points and five assists. He did a good job of working with Carl Landry early and finding Andres Nocioni for a couple of key first quarter baskets to stop the scoring run of the Pistons.

But in the second and third quarter, the Kings managed just 32 points thanks to 11/35 shooting (31.4%). The Kings simply couldn’t get baskets to fall through. And it’s not like they weren’t being aggressive or weren’t being active. They attempted 10 free throws alone in the second quarter. But their bad shooting was amplified by the Pistons uncanny ability to make their shots. In fact, the Pistons made as many field goals (11) in the second quarter as the Kings did in the second and third quarters combined. This essentially turned Detroit’s 13 made baskets in the third quarter into gravy on the cake or icing with biscuit wheels or whatever the saying is to imply that a team built up an impenetrable force field of scoring margin.

When the fourth quarter came, Coach Westphal seemingly challenged questions about his playing rotations and played just five guys the entire quarter. When the first second of the final 12 minutes ticked off, the Kings had Tyreke Evans, Francisco Garcia, Omri Casspi, Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey on the court. And that’s it. This unit did very well on the floor and cut a 25-point lead down to just 12.

Tyreke played the entire second half of this game and racked up eight assists and 16 points. He finished with 28 points and 13 assists (career-high and two away from Kings rookie record of 15 set by Kenny Smith). In the final quarter, there was simply too much of a lead to overcome with a hot shooting team still scoring well enough to hold off their opponents.

Carl Landry had another solid game for the Kings with 18 points on just seven shots. He went to the free throw line eight times and made them all, giving him 19 attempts in three games with the Kings (and he’s making 84% of them). While Omri Casspi got torched on defense by Tayshaun Prince, he couldn’t make up for it on offense. He made just two of his nine shot attempts and couldn’t get anything to fall. He had good looks but didn’t have the touch.

Offensively, the Kings did what you want them to do. They attacked the rim. In fact, they attempted 26 shots around the rim and made 21 of them (according to HoopData). And defensively, they forced the Pistons to shoot and make jumpers even if they were created off of penetration. But the Kings shots outside of the ones at the hoop didn’t fall (11/46 for 23.9%) and the Pistons’ jumpers did find the scorebook (18/27 from 16-23 feet).

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