AUBURN HILLS, Mich. It took the Kings awhile to find a group that could match the energy the Detroit Pistons displayed most of the night.
But the Kings didn't find that lineup until the fourth quarter. And by then, the Pistons had built a big enough lead to withstand a Kings' rally and send Sacramento to another road defeat.
The 103-97 loss Tuesday dropped the Kings to 1-13 on the road as they began a four-game trip.
The Kings led by eight points in the first quarter but quickly allowed Detroit to recover and fell behind by 15 in the second quarter.
"We were a little slow," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "We have been playing at a nice, fast pace and were a little heavy-legged, but sometimes that happens when you get out here on the first one of a road trip."
The Kings (11-20) began to play at a competitive pace when Smart tried the combination of Aaron Brooks, Jimmer Fredette, Travis Outlaw, James Johnson and Jason Thompson with 8:19 to play.
"I was searching for a little five minutes of energy somewhere," Smart said. "I found a group that got us back in the ballgame with a chance."
The Kings trailed 89-73 when Thompson replaced DeMarcus Cousins after he picked up his fourth foul. They went on a 22-7 run to cut the deficit to 96-95 with 2:30 to play.
But the Kings couldn't get any closer. They had two turnovers and gave up an offensive rebound on a free throw in the final 1:38.
Brooks also committed a foul with the Kings behind 98-95 with 42.7 seconds left and Pistons guard Will Bynum trapped. Those on the Kings' bench were yelling not to foul when Brooks fouled Bynum, who made both free throws.
"I don't know what happened," Brooks said. "I don't know. It's a bad play. I don't know. As a vet, you don't make plays like that, but stuff happens. I made a bad play. I'm lucky it didn't hurt us too much."
The Kings still had a chance, down 100-97 with 35.2 seconds to go, and defended well when Cousins deflected the ball from Tayshaun Prince. But the ball went to Austin Daye, who made a three-pointer with 11.5 seconds remaining.
Afterward, the Kings wondered why they couldn't slow down the Pistons (12-22). Detroit entered the game averaging 94.9 points and shooting 44 percent. The Pistons shot 52 percent Tuesday.
"I just think we didn't come with the energy," Cousins said. "I think that's the main thing."
The Kings are one of two teams with a 1-13 road record. The other is Washington (4-25).
Three opponents on this trip are below .500, so this would be an ideal opportunity to win on the road. The Kings have lost seven in a row away from Sacramento.
"It's tough to win away from home for us right now," Fredette said. "We have a few games on this road trip, and we've got to at least get one or two of them. That's what our goal is. We let one slip (Tuesday), and we've got to pick it up (tonight) and hopefully get one (in Cleveland)."