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Kings vs. Pistons preview and game thread: Time might be ticking on Luke Walton

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If Sacramento loses its 10th consecutive game, the pressure on management to make a change will only intensify.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It has been an embarrassing two-and-a-half weeks for the Sacramento Kings. After climbing into playoff positioning when they went on a 7-1 run, the Kings have dropped nine in a row, including a depressing 140-121 loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday.

Sacramento’s defense continues to be simply atrocious. Luke Walton’s squad gives up 126.3 points per game during its 0-9 stretch, by far the most in the league. The frustrating part is that the Kings are ranked 11th in scoring, highlighting how bad things are on their own end of the court.

The silver-lining for Sacramento is that it is playing a Detroit Pistons team that ranks 25th in points per game.

Game Information

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

When: Friday, Feb. 26 at 5:00 p.m. PT

How to watch/listen: NBC Sports California, KHTK Sports 1140 AM

Opposing perspective: Detroit Bad Boys

Projected Starting Lineups

Kings (12-20): De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Marvin Bagley, Richaun Holmes

Pistons (9-23): Dennis Smith Jr., Wayne Ellington, Jerami Grant, Sekou Doumboya, Mason Plumlee

Injuries/Absences

Kings: Chimezie Metu (right wrist), Jabari Parker and Hassan Whiteside (health and safety) — OUT

Pistons: Saddiq Bey (ankle) — QUESTIONABLE, Blake Griffin (team-related), Jahlil Okafor (knee) — OUT

The Pistons have the worst record in the Eastern Conference and come into this as losers of three out of their last four outings. If the Kings come up short in this one, the pressure on Walton should ramp up.

Sacramento was 17th in points allowed a season ago, only giving up 112.1 per game. Sure, the team lost an excellent paint protector in Alex Len, but that certainly isn’t the reason the Kings’ defense has fallen off a cliff.

Walton has failed to try different schemes to slow down opponents. The players are getting beaten too easily on the perimeter, and the rotations have been painstakingly slow. Sacramento gives up the most made field goals within 5-feet to opponents and is third-worst in 3-point percentage allowed.

Basically, there is nothing to feel good about on the defensive end, which falls on the head coach.

Although the Kings are putting up points themselves, two of their best offensive players are struggling during the nine-game slide.

De’Aaron Fox is shooting just 43.8 percent from the field and has a -16.1 plus/minus. Buddy Hield has been even worst. He’s shooting 36.7 percent from the field and just 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Even though this is the second game of a back-to-back, there is no reason why Sacramento shouldn’t beat Detroit. The Pistons will have Jerami Grant back in the lineup after he sat out against the New Orleans Pelicans but offer little-else through the rest of the roster.

If the Kings lose their 10th consecutive game, general manager Monte McNair could make a coaching change.