Fans came out in droves Friday night and were so loud that they set a world record for decibel level in an indoor arena. (119.7 decibels set the record on the first attempt.) On the court, though, the Detroit Pistons were the ones making noise, and the Sacramento Kings couldn’t figure out how to quiet them down.
Detroit had a balanced attack, utilizing defensive stops to spark fastbreaks and moving the ball well to create shots around the floor – all culminating in a 97-90 win over Sacramento.
Early turnovers by the Kings helped the Pistons to get out in front and interior defense that gradually subsided kept the lead out of Sacramento’s reach.
“Coming in, it was a really simple gameplan: we have to get back in transition – they’re a high-power transition team,” Michael Malone said. “But they scored 24 fastbreak points. … All three areas (transition, post defense and rebounding) we knew we had to focus on, we did none of.”
The Kings entered Friday averaging a little over 12 turnovers a game, but in the first quarter alone, gave the ball up seven times, which the Pistons capitalized on, scoring 13 points. Throughout the night, Detroit, particularly Brandon Jennings, turned defense into offense, aggressively pushing the ball up the floor when they forced Sacramento miscues.
Sacramento’s execution ebbed and flowed throughout the night before its defensive deficiencies ultimately decided the game. The Kings’ frontcourt started off the game well enough defensively – their energy and activity provided the Pistons with obstacles in the paint – but small cracks were wedged open by Detroit as the game wore on.
Once again, the Kings’ offense struggled, which they in turn allowed to impact play on the defensive end.
“When you make shots, it’s easy to play hard and defend at a higher level. When you miss shots, that’s the challenge,” Malone said. “I thought tonight, at times, when the shots weren’t going in or we turned the ball over, we had moments of feeling sorry for ourselves.”
Jason Thompson was one such player that was unable to get his offense going, but contrary to Malone’s assessment of some of the team, had a strong showing defensively. Most of the night he was matched up against Greg Monroe, who fought to impose his physical strength in the post. Thompson, though, parried Monroe’s advances and limited his effectiveness.
However, that’s where the Kings’ post defense success both began and ended.
Andre Drummond never let up, hounding Sacramento in the paint on each end on the way to a dominant 15 point, 18 rebound performance. On the glass or in the lane, the Kings had no answer for Drummond, who continually outhustled players for rebounds and clogged the paint defensively.
Sacramento didn’t fare much better with Josh Smith, whose all-around play opened up the game. At the beginning of the night, he handled the ball for what seemed like nearly as much time as Jennings, and racked up five assists doing it. He continued to prove a difficult matchup after that, stretching the floor by uncharacteristically knocking down threes and cutting to the basket when the Kings had lapses in rotations.
“It’s challenging,” Luc Richard Mbah a Moute said. “Josh is a guy that’s able to make plays for his size – he always causes mismatches. … When he gets it going, it’s tough, especially when you have smaller wing defenders.”
After the loss, the Kings’ locker room provided a stark contrast to the night’s raucous crowd. Players’ silence spoke to the disappointment in the team’s sixth loss in a season that has, so far, been marred by mental errors.
“It’s very frustrating,” said a sullen DeMarcus Cousins. “… It’s just the same mistakes”