Pistons overwhelmed in loss to Kings, await word on Derrick Rose injury
After the roster moves of the past few weeks, the Pistons have very little margin for error with injuries.
They could least afford an injury to another one of their starters — and an injury to Derrick Rose was about the worst news they could get.
A 21-point advantage in the first quarter wasn’t enough to hold up without Rose, who suffered an injured right ankle in the second quarter, as the Sacramento Kings surged in the second half, taking their first lead in the third quarter and holding on for a 106-100 victory on Sunday night at Golden 1 Center.
It’s the eighth loss in the last nine games for the Pistons (20-42), who finished their western road trip with a 1-3 mark. The severity of Rose’s injury is unclear, but after being examined by team medical staff, he went to the locker room and didn’t return to the game.
Coach Dwane Casey didn’t have much in way of an medical update, but they’re hoping it’s not a long-term absence.
“We’re not sure yet. We saw him (after the game) and he’s walking around and he’s out of the boot,” Casey told reporters. “He was moving around so I think we’re going to wait and see what the medical people say. I haven’t talked to him.”
Christian Wood had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Brandon Knight 16 points and seven assists and Svi Mykhailiuk 14 points and six rebounds for the Pistons.
De’Aaron Fox had 23 points and seven assists, Buddy Hield 19 points and six rebounds off the bench and Bogdan Bogdanovic 15 points and four steals for the Kings (26-34).
The Pistons steamed ahead, 18-1 to open the game, with a 16-0 run after Fox split a pair of free throws on the Kings’ opening possession. Rose led the surge, with all nine of his points. They extended the lead to 27-6 at the 4:06 mark on back-to-back 3-pointers by Mykhailiuk and Knight.
“Our bench was great. Luke subbed all the starters out and our bench brought us energy,” Fox said. “We’ve relied on that throughout the season when there were times our starters didn’t have it at the beginning of the game and our bench picked it up for us.”
The Kings followed with an 8-0 run, with two baskets by Nemanja Bjelica. They trimmed the lead to 31-16 after the first quarter and 51-50 at halftime.
Without Rose, the Pistons struggled to find a scoring groove and had to rely on Knight, who is more of a scoring guard than a point guard. That moved some of those minutes to Derrick Walton Jr., who is on a 10-day contract, as the only true point guard remaining on the roster.
“We went up pretty good while (Rose) was in the game and when the entire (starting) group went out, that’s when they started to pick up their aggression and got us back on our heels,” Casey said. “Their rebounding and transition defense went out when the first unit went out. I wish they could play 48 minutes, but they can’t, and we had to sub and get fresh bodies in there.
“That’s the mark of young players being ready to play when they come in the game. Once you lose that momentum, it’s hard to get it back.”
In the third quarter, the Kings took control, despite a surge by Knight, who had back-to-back 3-pointers, putting the Pistons ahead, 57-52. The Kings went ahead to stay, with an 8-0 run, including four points from Harrison Barnes (10 points and eight rebounds). John Henson ended the run, but Sacramento put together a 9-0 run with 3-pointers by Bjelica and Bogdanovic and three free throws from Fox, for a 69-59 lead at the 5:46 mark.
The Pistons never regained the lead but got within four points in the final seconds.
► With Rose’s injury, there looks to be an opportunity for Derrick Walton Jr. to take advantage. Walton is at the end of his 10-day contract and if Rose remains out for an extended period, the Pistons could just decide to keep Walton on for another 10-day deal. Walton hasn’t scored much — with his first Pistons points coming on a 3-pointer Sunday — but with his familiarity, it could be the simplest solution.
► Mykhailiuk has returned to a good groove offensively, with his second straight game scoring in double figures, after a five-game absence before the All-Star break. Mykhailiuk had four games in single digits and broke out of that slump with 13 points against the Phoenix Suns on Friday and he’s started a new streak.
► Rose was on course to have one of his best games this season, with nine points in nine minutes and getting hot offensively. His injury underscores his importance, as the Pistons didn’t have the offensive firepower to stay with the Kings the rest of the way, after Rose’s injury in the second quarter.
► John Henson notched his second game in double figures with the Pistons, posting 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 22 minutes. He was good, going 5-of-8 on field goals but missed all four of his attempts from the free-throw line. Donta Hall got another big chunk of minutes, as they assess whether he can earn another 10-day contract.