The Sacramento Kings seek retribution against the Detroit Pistons, who beat them at ARCO Arena back in November. That loss, on Nov. 14, had been the Kings' fifth straight after a 3-1 start for Sacramento; it showed just how far the team had to go, and dropped the Kings to a bad 1-5 at home. Sacramento still hasn't really recovered its home court advantage, as the Kings are just 6-15 at ARCO this season. Perhaps they will fare better at Power Balance Pavilion.
But never mind all that: this game is at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the fifth of a six-game road journey for the Kings. Sacramento earned its first victory of the trip Friday against the Knicks, with the Kings defense holding New York's otherwise awesome offense to a meager 83 points and 31 percent shooting. That came after games in which the Kings had given up 118, 136 and 119 points. Which Kings will show up in Detroit?
STARTING LINEUPS & INJURIES
Tyreke Evans returned on Friday, and there's no denying that he greatly helped the Kings' defense. Despite his rough offense all season, his defense has excelled, and it showed in both his on-ball defense and rotations against New York. Of course, 'Reke had nothing to do with Amar'e Stoudemire's poor shooting night, but Raymond Felton had a tough time scoring on Evans when the pair matched up. (This is say nothing of the suddenly rare minutes for Samuel Dalembert, who was a master on Friday.) Evans will back in the starting five against the Pistons, with Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia, Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins.
The Pistons' rotation is a mess, not unlike that of the Kings a month ago. Detroit came in late from a win in Toronto; on Friday, the Pistons started Rodney Stuckey and Tracy McGrady in the backcourt, with Tayshaun Prince, Chris Wilcox and Greg Monroe up front. Rip Hamilton is no longer playing (downgraded from "not playing much") and Ben Wallace missed Friday's game. Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon are the stars off the bench, with Austin Daye and Will Bynum providing auxiliary support.
Please check out HighTops' scouting report, if you have not already done so.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Cousins vs. Monroe. Neither rookie played particularly well in the first pairing. Monroe has begun producing of late; Cousins had that great run before the road trip sucked all the efficiency out of him. The Pistons are coffee filter thin up front and need Monroe out of foul trouble and producing, especially if defender/rebounder Wallace doesn't play.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Evans' offense looked the bad version in New York. While the Kings will certainly take his presence (defensive and otherwise), they could use more scoring and playmaking in the quest for another win. Watch his explosion off the bounce and his confidence in the open court.
4:30 PM Pacific tip. Game threads at 4:30 and 6. The Kings! The Pistons! Love it (on TV)!