The Kings, fresh off a drubbing at the hands of the New York Knicks the night earlier in which they gave up 140 points, used some of the energy they failed to exert in that game and came out swinging in Detroit, scoring 35 to the Pistons’ 25 at the end of one. Sacramento led by many as 17 in the first quarter.
Detroit matched Sacramento’s intensity in the second quarter and met them on the boards in large part to Isaiah Stewart’s tenacity. Stewart scored six points and grabbed seven grown man rebounds in 14 first half minutes. Mason Plumlee was plagued by foul trouble and the rookie more than took advantage of the additional playing time. Detroit outscored the Kings 27-20 in the second frame, to trail by three at the half. Jerami Grant, back from his game off prior, was fairly crisp in shooting 5-of-11 for 15 points. Saddiq Bey drilled three 3-pointers and scored 11 in the half. Saben Lee and Josh Jackson were were both catalysts for the improved play in the second quarter, both scoring three buckets and playing tough defense.
The third quarter was mostly Dennis Smith Jr.’s. Dennis scored 11 points and orchestrated the offense effectively. Jerami added 10 in the frame, getting to the bucket and getting calls to go his way. The Pistons took a 80-75 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Veteran big man Richaun Holmes was strong the entire night and in the fourth he was even more of a terror. He and the Kings — remember, they played the night before — made life on the offensive end difficult for Detroit. Despite that, the Pistons still were in a good place to win this game.
After Bey connected on a corner triple to put Detroit up four in the last couple minutes, the Kings made all the big plays, capped off essentially by a Harrison Barnes dead-eye triple to put Sactown up four with under a minute left.
Detroit responded with a quick deuce. Then on an end of the possession 3-pointer by Barnes, Buddy Hield rushed the glass and tipped in a missed three — while getting fouled by Jackson — with 12.9 seconds left to put the Kings back up four.
BUT wait, that not what actually happened.
It was deemed by the officials that Hield actually fouled Jackson on the tip-in. Coach Casey had challenged the call and his challenge was successful. Instead of Detroit down four, Jackson would go to the line down just two with 12 seconds left. Jackson would go on to two miss two free throws (the second Josh missed on purpose inexplicably).
The Kings left the door wide open by missing one of two freebies. Detroit had possession down three. The Kings fouled Grant right away to disallow a triple to tie. This would be the first of two times the Kings would use this strategy up by three.
The third time the Kings were up three with Detroit having possession (after another split from the Kings at the line), the Kings did not foul and Grant was able to get a rushed 3-pointer off over Barnes, but it was no good.
It was a wild game in which the Pistons played well enough to win during quarters two and three, but did not play up to par in the first and fourth.
De’Aaron Fox, one of the better up-and-coming guards with an average of 22 points and seven assists, didn’t have his best game yet still scored 27 and dished out six assists. Barnes was huge down the stretch and finished 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Marvin Bagley scored 19 in 28 minutes and Richaun Holmes was a monster everywhere, scoring 19 and grabbing 17 rebounds (six on the offensive glass).
The Kings went 29-of-41 from the foul line compared to the Pistons 21-of-32.