Detroit Pistons lose first game without Cade Cunningham to Sacramento Kings
DETROIT, MI – The Detroit Pistons loss to the Sacramento Kings 131-110 in a game where Cade Cunningham was definitely missed. But if you ask Jaden Ivey it was a lot more missing than Cunningham in this game. Ivey wasn’t pleased with his teams showing on defense or the offense as it faded,
”We need to have more fight and more dog,” Ivey said. “Including myself.”
It was understandably a light crowd given numerous factors from the weather, to Cunningham’s injury. And the teams performance hasn’t helped. But tonight was a different story, at least for a quarter.
From the opening tip-off Bojan Bogdanovic and Jalen Duren picked up the slack in Cunningham’s absence. Bogdanovic finished the opening quarter with thirteen points and Duren had ten points to go with six rebounds as they both shot 5 of 5 form the field.
The Pistons were 7 of 10 in the first quarter from behind the arc to help them take a 47-29 lead heading into the second quarter.
But the defense was a big factor as well. They held the Kings to fourteen percent shooting on their first seven attempts from three.
Second Half Let Down
The defense and turnovers became a big issue for the Pistons in the second quarter. Although things looked promising, the wheels began to fall off as the first half came to a close. And it rightfully bothered head coach Monty Williams.
“Too many turnovers and times we just couldn’t get into an offense. We just didn’t have the organization that we did in the first.”
One issue that needs to be solved is the Pistons help side defense, which has seemed to suffer more as rookie Ausar Thompson has played less minutes. But as the Pistons began to close the gap in the third quarter and early in the fourth, it was the bench unit that made the difference. Alec Burks and surprising contributions from seldom used Joe Harris settled things offensively. While Thompson showed tough on defense and in leading the break in transition.
But Thompson only received thirteen minutes and didn’t get much time to get in a rhythm on offense. Outside of Bogdanovic and Burks, the Pistons couldn’t find a consistent stride on offense. The sets began to breakdown after the first option and the turnovers began to pileup, slowly stripping away their early lead.
Fourth Quarter Collapse
Despite a brief comeback attempt which tied the game at 101-101 with about eight minutes left in the game, the Pistons ran out of gas. Coach Williams believes the Kings playoff experience and maturity were the difference. Their ability to turn up the intensity when needed, while reducing the mistakes is something Williams hopes his team can develop.
”Once we got up big, a playoff team like that will always change their coverage and physicality,” Williams said. “We have to learn to get over that hump.”
And one area Williams hopes to help his team improve at is how they attack the half court offense. The Pistons indecisiveness led to turnovers, shots being blocked and the offense breaking down after the first option.
“Twenty-one turnovers is just a repetitive song,” Williams said. “We need to give our guys the confidence to score rather than throwing (turnovers) it into space.”
“I would rather us shoot the ball rather than try to make tough passes in the paint.”
But the Kings offense was too much for the Pistons led by a hot shooting Keegan Murray and big man Domantas Sabonis. Murray, who was selected one spot ahead of Jaden Ivey, scored thirty-two points on thirteen of sixteen shooting and hit five threes. He made it seem effortless scoring from all three levels.
In addition to Murray’s efforts, Sabonis was a menace in the paint all game on the way to a triple double. He scored thirty-seven points on sixteen of twenty one shooting to go with thirteen assists and ten rebounds.
They played direct, physical and looked every bit the team Detroit talks of wanting to become. The Kings didn’t play the cleanest game, but they played composed after their first options were taken away.