Pistons, without Blake Griffin, smashed by Kings

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Bogdan Bogdanovic (8) and De'Aaron Fox of the Kings go for a loose ball against Khyri Thomas of the Pistons.

Sacramento, Calif. — Even with Blake Griffin, the Pistons already were struggling in their recent skid, having dropped eight of the last 10 games. Without their star, the Pistons didn’t fare much better.

Griffin (rest) missed his second game of the season on Thursday, as the shorthanded Pistons faced the Sacramento Kings, on the second night of a back-to-back.

The result wasn’t much different than Wednesday’s lackluster loss against the Lakers.

The Kings used a big first quarter to take a double-digit lead and crushed the Pistons, 112-102, on Thursday night at Golden 1 Center.

BOX SCORE: Kings 112, Pistons 102

It’s the fourth straight loss for the Pistons (17-23), who have Friday off before Griffin returns to face his former team, the Clippers, on Saturday at Staples Center in the third game of their four-game western trip.

Stanley Johnson had 16 points, Reggie Bullock added 15 points and tied his career high with six assists and rookie Bruce Brown set a career-best with 15 points.

“With (Griffin’s) planned rest, it was a badly timed time — it was badly needed,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Our guys competed, diving on the floor, going for loose balls. We have to have that and we had a competitive edge throughout the game.

“Sometimes we make mistakes and there are a lot of teachable moments for the young guys. I like the way Khyri Thomas came out and competed and all the young guys.”

The Kings (21-21) got off to a quick start, with a 13-2 run to open the game, with a pair of baskets from Buddy Hield (18 points). The Pistons got back-to-back 3-pointers by Luke Kennard and Bullock, but Sacramento followed with an 11-4 spurt, with the Pistons only managing only a pair of drives by Reggie Jackson.

The Pistons trailed, 34-21, after a lay-in by Glenn Robinson III to finish the first quarter.

With Griffin out, they struggled to find consistency in their offense, committing 20 turnovers, leading to 34 points for the Kings. The Pistons shot 43 percent from the field and just 29 percent on 3-pointers.

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“If we are serious about winning then we need to have everyone (playing well), not just one or two guys,” Casey said. “That’s why I liked the way the guys who came off the bench played. Khyri Thomas did an excellent job; Stanley Johnson played the game the right way.

“Again, the biggest nemesis was turnovers … you can’t beat anybody turning the ball over and gifting points to them like we did.”

The Pistons started to surge in the second quarter with a 3-pointer by Johnson, part of a 9-3 spurt, with a turnaround by Leuer. Willie Cauley-Stein got going, with seven of his 14 points (with 14 rebounds and five assists).

With a jumper by Hield, a jumper by Iman Shumpert (13 points) and a putback by Cauley-Stein, the Kings pushed their lead to 60-38 at the 2:12 mark. The Pistons got a floater by Jackson and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Langston Galloway to pull within 65-48 at halftime.

In the second half, the Pistons didn’t make a big run, until Johnson made a stepback jumper and a pair of free throws. Rookie Khyri Thomas (eight points) hit a 3-pointer to get them within 17 to end the third quarter.

“We came in with the idea of putting together a 48-minute game,” Kings coach Dave Joerger said. “We were locked in and did a good job defensively of jamming up the paint. We made them shoot up over the top of us.”


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard