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Pistons Edge Kings 100-94

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The Kings didn't fall behind by a dozen! They still lost at home to a, err, "sub-elite" Detroit Pistons team by the score of 100-94. It was a tight affair throughout, with the game being tied 86-86 halfway through the fourth. The Pistons had more successful possessions down the stretch, thanks in part to Sacramento's smelly, smelly defense.

Detroit scored 100 points in 87 possessions, an offensive rating of 115, which is just ridiculous for a team as offensively shallow as the Pistons. Sacramento's offense is no great shakes at this point (108 offensive rating today), but the defense is just, in a word, pathetic. Detroit shot 43% over its first nine games, and 53% against the Kings. Just ghastly work on that end.

No one Piston killed the Kings, unless we can invent a player named "Piston Guarded by Beno Udrih," because every Piston ever guarded by Beno Udrih killed the Kings. I hate knocking Beno's defense because he does try. He's just not good at that end of the floor, not when the opponents are Rip Hamilton or Rodney Stuckey. Hamilton, guarded by Tyreke Evans, missed his first two shots while Stuckey, guarded by Udrih, made his first two shots. The Kings guards swapped. Hamilton, guarded by Udrih, hit his next four shots. It was like that all night, and obvious enough that Udrih played just 22 minutes despite no injury or foul trouble. The coaching staff saw that the Pistons were beating Udrih like a meringue, and they pulled him until they absolutely needed him to run the offense.

That's the problem for the Kings' offense right now: at times, when the opponent swarms Evans, the Kings need Udrih in there to run the offense. Luther Head (sparkplug scorer that he is) can't do it, Francisco Garcia can't do it, none of the big men can do it. If Evans is being swarmed or just isn't making plays efficiently (he wasn't late in the fourth), Udrih has to be out there (assuming Pooh Jeter isn't dressed).

It's a terrible cycle: Udrih plays and the Kings get scorched; Udrih exits and the Kings' offense falters; Udrih plays and the Kings get scorched. Unless Udrih gets that effin' Yeti under control or Evans grows even more as a playmaker, it's a tough position for Sacramento to be in with little relief other than hot shooting in sight.

(That Udrih had the team's only positive plus-minus and that Garcia, one of the defense-minded alternates to Udrih, gave up the crushing corner three to Ben Gordon -- those facts are not lost on me. I'm just ignoring them at this juncture.)

Big game for Jason Thompson (10 points on 4-4 and 2-2 with five rebounds, no turnovers and just one foul), who will not be seeing another DNP-CD for the forseeable future. DeMarcus Cousins had some sloppy possessions (six of the Kings' 12 turnovers), but defended decently (in my opinion, and consider that relative to previous performance) and was a beast on the boards, regularly getting rebounds no other King -- not even Samuel Dalembert -- would grab. Someday, Cousins could grab 30 rebounds in a game. That will be when the league raises the foul limit to 17. Carl Landry was something nice in the paint and shot 5-7 from the line (woohoo!), and Dalembert had some fine moments hitting the offensive glass (three lovely putbacks, five offensive rebounds in just 23 minutes) and on defense.

Omri Casspi played with great energy, but was ineffective overall. Head played with great energy and was effective (13 points on 5-8 in 26 minutes) -- his zest for at least looking like he cares about defense is fun to watch. (Note: I'm not saying Head is just pretending to care about defense, he legitimately does, and it shows. Unfortunately, Hamilton can shoot right over him.) I have no clue, in retrospect, how Evans shot just 9-21, though I'll not plenty of short shots he'd normally make rimmed out, and only one of the three missed three-pointers he offered -- a desperation shot in the closing seconds -- was a bad look.

I am fully on board with Aykis' "I'm OK if I never see Antoine Wright shoot again" meme.