AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons had lost their last three games, giving up an average of 112.3 points.
The Kings, however, made these Pistons look like the Bad Boys who imposed their will defensively during the franchises heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Sacramento scored only 11 third-quarter points Tuesday night in a 99-89 loss at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Pistons (25-39) entered the game allowing an average of 103.8 points. But the Kings (22-42) couldnt take advantage, thanks largely to their third-quarter output, their lowest in a quarter this season.
The Kings led by 11 in the first half, but the Pistons cut the deficit to 54-52 at halftime and used an 8-0 run to start the third to take the lead for good.
We did not come out ready to play, Kings coach Michael Malone said of his teams third-quarter performance.
The Kings are 3-24 when scoring fewer than 100 points. Theyve dropped their last three games, all sub-100-point efforts.
We can still beat teams and not score 100 points, Rudy Gay said. We should be able to.
But its hard to do with a third-quarter drought like the Kings had. They made 4 of 20 shots in the period.
We came out flat in the third quarter, for sure, Gay said.
The Kings top three scorers, Gay, DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas, combined to shoot 19 of 51. Thomas and Cousins each had five turnovers.
As the Kings tried to explain why their offense has struggled lately, some of the themes were familiar the ball stopped moving and players forced shots.
The Kings managed 18 assists after matching their season low with 11 assists Sunday at Brooklyn. But there were still too many instances when players forced bad shots.
I think these last two were definitely winnable games, but we got stagnant after we started missing shots, Gay said. That and the one-on-one happens a lot, then you miss a shot and you try to force it, although for the most part we took a lot of great shots and tried to get into the paint and do some things.
Cousins also tried to explain how the Kings could improve their offense.
We need to make the game easier for one another, he said. Some nights I dont know.
Thomas said missing good shots was a big problem in the third quarter. He also cited recurring issues during the losing streak.
The third quarter we got everything we wanted. We just couldnt make shots, Thomas said. Other than that, the offense got stagnant, guys werent moving, and thats about it. We play bad basketball too long in basketball games, and thats what hurts us.
Gay finished with 20 points on 8-for-21 shooting. Cousins had 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting with 14 rebounds. Thomas had 19 points on 6-for-15 shooting with a game-high eight assists.
Josh Smith led the Pistons with 24 points, and Rodney Stuckey added 23 points off the bench.
Cousins said his off-night shooting had nothing to do with his matchup against Andre Drummond.
I wouldnt necessarily say that, Cousins said. I missed a lot of easy shots. Those are shots I usually make, but sometimes you have those nights.
Gay also said it was just a bad shooting night.
It was tough, Gay said. We tried to take good shots, shots we can make, but its something we have to get back in the gym on this road trip and find a way to knock down some shots.
There wont be time for practice until Friday. The Kings today play at Philadelphia, which has lost 17 in a row, and after back-to-back games, they get a day off Thursday, when they travel to Chicago.
Were just making it tough on ourselves, Gay said. We cant panic when were not making shots. And for this game and last game, thats all I saw.