The Kings looked focused to start the game, which pleased coach Keith Smart.
They built a 16-point lead in the second quarter.
But the end result was familiar.
The Kings lost their third consecutive game, 124-112 to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night at Power Balance Pavilion.
"The bottom line is when you don't get a win, it erases everything you do positive," Smart said.
The game left plenty on the negative side to be examined.
Detroit became the fourth Sacramento opponent in the last five games to shoot at least 50 percent, finishing at 58.1.
The defensive shortcomings were especially evident in the third quarter, when the Kings gave up 40 points, the most they have allowed in a quarter this season.
The Pistons took control in the third quarter to win for the fourth time in five games and end a four-game road losing streak.
Detroit (16-27) has feasted on Sacramento's defense this season. The Pistons' previous season high was 114 points, which came in a Feb. 17 home win over the Kings.
Guard Rodney Stuckey led Detroit with 35 points, one short of his season high that came against the Kings last month.
When Stuckey or forward Tayshaun Prince (28 points) weren't scoring from the perimeter, the Pistons were finding ways to score inside. Center Greg Monroe matched his career high with 32 points.
"Trying to cover the paint and cover both places (the perimeter), it's hard for our team right now," Smart said. "We have to figure out that this group can do that. That's going to be really hard."
The Pistons carried momentum from the second quarter to rout the Kings after halftime. They made 15 of 20 shots (75 percent) in the third quarter, and the Kings went from a one-point halftime lead to a 97-81 deficit entering the fourth quarter.
In the decisive third period, Stuckey scored 19 points, and Detroit made all five of its three-point attempts, four by Stuckey.
"You're not going to win a game if you give up 40 points (in a quarter)," said Kings guard Isaiah Thomas. "And Rodney Stuckey went off. We've got to know when guys are going off, we've got to stop a guy as a team, not depend on one guy to stop him."
The Kings lost Tyreke Evans with 4:20 to play because of a sprained left ankle. Evans had a team-high 23 points and is day-to-day after X-rays were negative.
Evans, who has a history of sprained ankles, said his ankle "could be worse."
"The pain was high at the time," Evans said. "But after I got iced and settled down for a little bit, it kind of stopped hurting. Just treatment, treatment and, hopefully, I'll be ready to play soon."
The Kings are 2-3 on their nine-game homestand, which continues Friday against Boston. After playing 24 road games, the Kings (14-29) hoped to use the home games to build momentum.
Instead, the Kings have struggled, including losses to sub-.500 teams Golden State and Detroit.
"These are the winnable games we should have won," said Kings forward Jason Thompson, who had a season-high 21 points and 15 rebounds. "We should have got one (Tuesday against the Warriors). We should have got one (Wednesday). We've just got to look at the film and get better."