Pistons 102, Kings 88

Preview | Box Score | Recap

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP)—When the Detroit Pistons were introduced before Tuesday night’s game, the Arco Arena scoreboard flashed images of abandoned buildings, burned-out cars—nearly every outdated, offensive stereotype of their hometown.

Most of the Pistons didn’t see the display, but they went out and wrecked the Sacramento Kings’ home opener anyway.

Tayshaun Prince scored 25 points while making 10 straight shots, and the Pistons emphatically snapped an eight-game losing streak in Sacramento with a 102-88 victory.

The Kings quickly apologized for the scoreboard montage, and the Detroit players didn’t hear about it until they got dressed in their locker room after an impressive victory—their first in Sacramento since Feb. 26, 1996.

“To do something like that, it’s embarrassing,” said Detroit coach Flip Saunders, who saw the video. “It’s not called for. There’s no excuse for that. Whoever did that owes us an apology. … I know the Maloofs pretty well, and they’ve always been nothing but classy. I’m sure they didn’t have anything to do with that.”

John Thomas, the president of Maloof Sports and Entertainment, claimed he didn’t know who was responsible for the video, but promised immediate discipline.

“It was a terrible mistake,” Thomas said. “That’s not how we do things. We apologize to the great Detroit organization and to the city of Detroit. … There’s no explanation. It was a mistake, and it won’t happen again.”

The Pistons played with plenty of motivation even though they didn’t see the show. Chauncey Billups had 16 points and eight assists, and Richard Hamilton added 21 points and six rebounds as Detroit (4-0) extended the club’s best start since 1996.

“I just heard about it,” Billups said. “I wasn’t really paying attention. That’s cold. Bet they won’t do that again.”

“Don’t tread on D,” forward Rasheed Wallace said with a grin.

Detroit played a remarkably proficient game against the Kings, who couldn’t keep up despite big performances from newcomers Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Bonzi Wells in their regular-season home debuts.

In the opener of a three-game road trip, Detroit scored easy fast-break baskets and hit countless difficult jumpers while taking a 21-point lead early in the fourth quarter—and shutting down Peja Stojakovic and Mike Bibby on the other end.

“I walk away from this game feeling like we let them do what they wanted to do,” said Abdur-Rahim, who had 14 points. “They made everything easy. Tonight, we got pushed around.”

After just four games, the defending Eastern Conference champions already look comfortable with the marriage of their usual hard-nosed defense and Saunders’ up-tempo offensive mentality.

Prince scored 19 points and hit three 3-pointers in the second half for the Pistons, who made a 24-4 run spanning the third and fourth quarters. Detroit scored the first 11 points of the fourth, sending home much of the sellout crowd.

“In that situation, I’m going to shoot until I miss,” Prince said. “And with this coaching staff, we’re going to ride whoever is hot. It’s definitely a big confidence-booster. What’s most important is the coaching staff is behind you.”

Wells scored 16 points in the first game at Arco Arena in 21 days for the Kings, who were stuck with the NBA’s last home opener for the second straight season.

After draining exhibition visits to Fresno, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, the Kings opened the regular season with a three-game road trip featuring a 26-point loss to the New Orleans Hornets in Oklahoma City.

“I don’t care if we’re playing home or not,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We just ran into a better team. Their starting five has played together for a while. They executed very well, and they shot it very well. We looked like a team that is inexperienced playing together.”

Detroit started slowly but soon made a 21-4 run in the first quarter, killing the Kings with transition baskets and tough jumpers. The Pistons maintained a steady lead for the rest of the night, even though Sacramento played mostly good defense and got 28 points from its reserves.

The Pistons were so impressive in the second half, making big defensive stops and hitting one difficult basket after another, that Billups and Saunders repeatedly stood and clapped for the players on the court near the Detroit bench.

The Pistons held Sacramento scoreless over the first 5:08 of the fourth quarter, scoring 11 straight points.

Maurice Evans, who left the Kings to sign with Detroit in the offseason, scored 12 points on his 27th birthday.


Sacramento Monarchs stars Yolanda Griffith and Kara Lawson got a standing ovation in the first quarter. … Rapper and “Pimp My Ride” host Xzibit also sat courtside. … Playing just 31 minutes, Prince fell six points short of his career high.

Related Articles

Top Performers

 Top Performers
R. Hamilton R. Hamilton
9-17,  21 Pts
6 Rebs, 5 Assists
M. Bibby M. Bibby
5-13,  13 Pts
6 Rebs, 9 Assists

Team Stat Leaders