Pistons 100, Kings 94
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)
An experienced lineup of veterans didn't panic after opening the season with five straight losses. Nearly two weeks after that awful start, the Detroit Pistons are on the mend.
The Pistons have won four of five since their early slump.
''We thought we could have won all five of those games,'' said Gordon, who had eight points in the fourth quarter. ''Now we're finishing games out like we know we can.''
Gordon did his part with his typical clutch shooting in the fourth. His 3-pointer from the corner put the Pistons ahead 99-94 with 23.9 seconds left. He finished with 16 points despite only shooting six times.
Gordon made a pair of 3-pointers and all six free throws for Detroit, which outscored the struggling Kings 25-22 in the fourth quarter.
''That's where I've made my money - in the fourth quarter,'' Gordon said. ''On the 3-pointer, Tayshuan (Prince) posted up and my man went to help and turned his head. That left me open for a split second and I hit the shot.''
Prince had 12 of his 14 points in the second half for the Pistons. Richard Hamilton scored 13 points and Charlie Villanueva added 11. Ben Wallace added 10 rebounds and a big block on Tyreke Evans' runner in the lane with 16.6 seconds left.
''We did a great job of coming up with big plays at the end,'' Detroit coach John Kuester said. ''We valued the basketball in the second half and we ended up with four turnovers (eight in the first half). That was important, especially down the stretch. We didn't give away opportunities. We did some great things down the stretch.''
Great things have definitely not been happening of late for the youthful Kings. After opening the season with a surprising 3-1 start, they haven't won. That includes four straight losses at home, where they are 1-4 this season. They are in the midst of playing eight of nine games at home, a stretch that extends to Nov. 21.
Making 2 of 18 3-point attempts against Detroit was a key part of their latest loss for Sacramento. The Kings have been held under 100 points in the last four games after scoring 100 or more in the opening five games.
''We had open 3s for really good shots and went 2 of 18. Sometimes that is the difference in the game in the NBA,'' Kings coach Paul Westphal said. ''You like to think the difference is always how well you take care of the ball, how well you rebound, getting to the line more than the other team, and all that stuff. We didn't make shots. It was discouraging.''
After Villanueva's two free throws gave Detroit a four-point lead, a driving basket by DeMarcus Cousins pulled the Kings within 94-92 with 1:52 remaining. But Prince answered with a pull-up jumper in the lane.
Ahead 75-72 to open the fourth quarter, Villanueva made a jumper and followed with a 3-pointer, putting the Pistons up by eight points at the 10:17 mark. It had been a quiet first three quarters for Villanueva, who had just two points after scoring a season-high 30 in Detroit's overtime win Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
It was a frustrating game for the highly touted Cousins, the fifth pick in the 2010 draft. He had six points, eight rebounds and six turnovers. The Kings' backup center missed several easy opportunities from close range in the opening half and committed three fouls and three turnovers in just under nine minutes.
''I can't control the refs,'' said Cousins, who had four fouls and looked tentative for much of the game. ''If I get the calls, I get them. If I don't I just try to play through it, that's basketball. That's the way it is.''
NOTES: Cousins drew a technical foul following an offensive foul in the second quarter. ... Beno Udrih, the Kings' second-leading scorer, had no points in the first half. He finished with five. ... Detroit attempted only one 3-pointer in the first half and finished 3 of 9.