Udrih had 23 points and six assists to help the Kings beat the Detroit Pistons 105-95 on Sunday night.
Udrih, a late preseason cut by San Antonio who came to the Kings as a backup when Mike Bibby was injured just prior to the season, has quickly become a starter. He showed why against the Pistons, hitting 9 of 13 shots from the field and all five of his free throw attempts and fueling a strong second half by the Kings.
“I chose this team because I knew I would get an opportunity to play; I didn’t get that in San Antonio,” said Udrih, who played three seasons with the Spurs and owns two championship rings.
“Playing regular minutes has helped my confidence. In San Antonio I never knew how much I would play. I won’t come out here if I miss one or two shots in a row.”
Udrih hardly missed anything in the third quarter when he scored 15 points, including 11 in a stretch where the Kings outscored Detroit 15-1 to take the lead after trailing by nine points.
“He had an unbelievable game in the third quarter,” Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. “He made shots and he made plays. He’s been playing extremely well for them.”
But Udrih had plenty of help, as the Kings won for a second straight time and improved to 4-1 at home. Kevin Martin had his first sub-20-point game, but still finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. Ron Artest scored 16, Brad Miller had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Mikki Moore added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Tayshaun Prince scored 19 points for the Pistons, who have lost two straight. Rasheed Wallace had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Richard Hamilton scored 17 and Chauncey Billups contributed 14 points and nine assists.
“Our team grew up tonight playing a tough, tough team like Detroit in a grind-it-out game,” Kings coach Reggie Theus said. “From a confidence standpoint, winning against an upper-echelon team builds confidence.”
Clinging to a 94-92 lead, Martin hit two free throws after Rasheed Wallace and Detroit assistant coach Dave Cowens both drew technical fouls for arguing a call. Miller, who fouled by Wallace on a drive to the basket, hit two more free throws to put the Kings ahead 98-92 with 2:17 left, and the Pistons never got any closer.
“You make it halfway down the court, then you decide to call it?” said Wallace, referring to the call coming late that resulted in his first technical this season. “You know, it’s crazy. But we let them hang around.”
It was the end of a five-game trip for the road-weary Pistons, who went 2-3 and have opened the season by playing eight of 10 games away from home. Detroit starts a five-game homestand Wednesday against New York.
“It was a bad road trip in my eyes,” said Billups, who had missed the two previous games with injuries.
Antonio McDyess missed his third straight game with a left shoulder strain. The Kings play the Suns on Tuesday at home and the two teams meet again Wednesday in Phoenix. Shareef Abdur-Rahim was not with the Kings due to personal reasons. Jason Maxiell fouled out despite playing only 15 minutes.