Kings 96, Pistons 94
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—A compliment seemed to make Peja Stojakovic more nervous than the game-winning shot he took.
“Wow, the guy shoots like Larry Bird,” Detroit’s Richard Hamilton said. “When he let it go, I was like, ‘I know that’s going in,’ just because of the way he had been hitting them.”
When the praise was relayed to Stojakovic, on his way out of the arena, he struggled to respond.
“Well … that’s a great compliment, but Larry Bird was a special player and a legend,” said Stojakovic, who scored 25 points. “It’s nice of him to say that, but I don’t think I’m ready to be compared to him.”
Stojakovic connected from the right wing on a 22-footer after Vlade Divac dropped him a pass for his 11th assist. Stojakovic made nine of 18 shots and four of eight 3-pointers, one from nearly 30 feet.
Stojakovic, who will play in the All-Star game Sunday in Los Angeles, will go for his third straight 3-point shootout title on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t bet against him,” Kings coach Rick Adelman said. “He’s the best shooter in the league right now.”
Mike Bibby scored 26 points for the Western Conference-leading Kings, who have won seven of eight and five straight on the road.
“It’s going to take more than a couple shots like that to hurt me,” Miller said. “I’ve had a lot worse.”
Hamilton scored 27 for the Pistons, who head into the All-Star break with a season-high five-game losing streak—after winning 17 of 20.
“The NBA is like a roller coaster,” Hamilton said.
“We’re happy to have a break,” Billups said.
In the third quarter, Rebraca was ejected for punching Miller, and Williamson was tossed for knocking him down on a drive.
“It was a hard foul, but I believe he had some extra theatrics,” Williamson said. “But the way the game was going, I guess the refs felt they had to take control.”
Bibby’s steal and layup gave the Kings a 92-89 lead with 1:09 left.
On the next possession, Billups’ 3-pointer—his only basket of the game— tied it.
Miller’s putback put the Kings ahead 94-92 with 54.5 seconds left. After Wallace grabbed two offensive rebounds, he made two free throws to tie the game with 24.1 seconds left.
The Kings held the ball on their last possession just long enough to set up a late shot for Stojakovic. The Pistons could not get a shot off before the buzzer.
Detroit’s Darko Milicic made his earliest appearance of the season, starting the second quarter. The No. 2 pick in the draft made a hook and stole a pass insix minutes, but didn’t play in the second half.
Adelman said the Kings plan to decide at Monday’s practice whether Chris Webber (left knee) will be activated from the injured list. … Sacramento’s Bobby Jackson missed his third straight game with a strained stomach muscle. … Detroit’s Mehmet Okur sat out for the fourth time in fivegames with back spasms. The Pistons are 0-4 without him.