AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Brandon Knight scored 20 points as the Detroit Pistons won their third straight game, a 103-97 decision over the Sacramento Kings at The Palace on Tuesday night.
Greg Monroe, who recorded his first career triple-double at Sacramento in November, supplied 18 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit (12-22). Will Bynum added 15 points for the Pistons, who survived a late Kings rally to win for the fifth time in six games.
DeMarcus Cousins, coming off his first career triple-double against Boston on Sunday, led the Kings with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Sacramento (11-20) fell to 1-13 on the road while losing the opener of a stretch of four road games in five nights.
Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva was ejected for knocking Kings guard Isaiah Thomas to the floor with four seconds remaining in the first half. Thomas, who was struck in the head while driving to the basket, jumped up and attempted to go after Villanueva but was not penalized. The officials determined Villanueva, who was not initially called for a foul on the play, committed a Flagrant 2 infraction after reviewing the replay.
Sacramento played without two of its top three scorers. Marcus Thornton sat out after spraining his left ankle against Boston, while Tyreke Evans missed his 13th game this season with a sore left knee.
Trailing 89-73 with just over eight minutes left, the Kings scored nine unanswered points and continued to chip away after Bynum ended the run with a 3-pointer. Jimmer Fredette's 3-pointer with 3:04 remaining pulled Sacramento within 94-93. Despite four missed free throws by Detroit in the late going, the Kings never caught up.
Bynum pushed the lead back to 100-95 on two free throws with 42.7 seconds left. Austin Daye (13 points) clinched the win on a 3-pointer with 11.5 seconds remaining.
Prior to Villanueva's ejection, the Pistons controlled the second quarter, starting the period with a 23-7 run. Andre Drummond's steal and dunk gave Detroit a 50-35 lead. The Pistons held a 58-48 advantage at halftime, with Knight and Bynum having combined for 25 points.
Cousins had 10 third-quarter points, but Detroit maintained a double-digit advantage, carrying an 80-67 lead into the fourth.
NOTES: Villanueva was suspended five games in April 2011 after a scuffle with Cleveland's Ryan Hollins. Both players were ejected from that game, and Villanueva tried unsuccessfully to enter the visitors' locker room to confront Hollins. The suspension was later reduced to four games. ... Villanueva was averaging 15.5 points over the previous four games, having made 13 of 27 3-point attempts. ... Pistons sixth man Rodney Stuckey missed third consecutive game with a left ankle sprain. Stuckey and Corey Maggette, who had a calf strain at the start of the season, are the only Pistons to miss games because of injuries this season. ... Ten players have led the Kings at least once in assists this season. ... Cousins was the fifth player taken in the 2010 NBA draft, and Monroe was chosen two picks later. In their previous five head-to-head matchups, Cousins averaged 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, and Monroe averaged 14.6 points and 9.2 rebounds. "Guys get up for every game, but when it's in your same draft class, there may be a little extra flavor involved," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. ... Sacramento fell to 6-7 with Evans out of action. ... Forwards Jason Thompson and Chuck Hayes are the only Kings to appear in every game. ... Detroit has won eight of the teams' past 10 meetings, but the Pistons lost 105-103 at Sacramento on Nov. 7.