DETROIT — Up, down, up, and back down again.
It’s the roller coaster the Pistons are on so far this season, with some good performances followed by poor ones. They had a good win in Houston followed by a horrible loss to the Cavs on Friday, then an impressive bounce-back win Saturday in Toronto.
The pattern continued with a lackluster performance in a 129-107 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena. In the fourth quarter, it looked like it would be the Pistons’ largest margin of defeat this season, a 28-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 2, but they closed the margin.
Cade Cunningham had a career-best 25 points, along with eight rebounds and eight assists in his best statistical game, but most of that was lost in the lopsided finish. Saddiq Bey added a season-best 23 points and Isaiah Stewart six points and 14 rebounds.
The Pistons (3-10) started 4-of-7 from the field but missed their next 12 shots and fell into a 22-10 deficit at the 3:20 mark of the first quarter. The Kings (6-8) went on a 15-0 run, starting with a drive by De’Aaron Fox (19 points, six rebounds and nine assists) 3-pointer by Tyrese Haliburton (15 points and 10 rebounds) and a hook by Richaun Holmes (19 points and nine rebounds).
Cory Joseph ended the drought with a driving lay-in, but the Kings finished the first quarter with a 9-0 run, including a 3-pointer and a jumper by Buddy Hield (22 points).
Cunningham opened the second quarter with a pair of baskets, but the Kings continued their barrage, with back-to-back 3-pointers by Haliburton and Hield, pushing the lead to 42-16. Bey scored the Pistons’ next seven points and Rodney McGruder provided a spark with four points. After another Bey 3-pointer and a dunk by Cunningham, the Pistons were within 49-34 at the 4:40 mark, but the Kings made another big run, scoring 11 straight points, with a 3-pointer and a jumper by Fox and a dunk by Harrison fouls (13 points and six rebounds).
Haliburton had another lay-in and 3-pointer and Fox had a 3-pointer down the stretch and the Kings extended their lead to 69-44 at halftime.
Turnovers again were a problem for the Pistons, and at one point in the second quarter, they had as many turnovers (five) as field goals. It was a similar storyline to Friday’s loss to the Cavaliers, when turnovers, poor shooting and bad defense led to a 20-point loss in Cleveland.
Finishing with two wins on the three-game road trip looked to provide some optimism, but that went away quickly in the first quarter.
Bey got going again in the fourth quarter, with a 3-pointer, a free throw and a basket to follow, as they chipped away at the lead. Jerami Grant got his first basket at the 6:47 mark, and the lead was down to 77-60, but the Kings kept extending.
Haliburton scored on a dunk, Chimezie Metu added a dunk and a 3-pointer by Fox got the lead back to 86-60 with 4:16 left. The Pistons didn’t get the lead under double digits the rest of the way.