Allen Iverson, who had 30 points in his first win with the Pistons, pumps his fists after making two late free throws.
Rich Pedroncelli / AP Enlarge
SACRAMENTO - For a veteran like Allen Iverson, a win in November against a lottery team rarely registers as important. After losing his first two games with his new team, that wasn't the case with this victory.
Iverson had 30 points, nine assists and provided a spark for Detroit after a slow start, winning his first game since joining the Pistons, 100-92 over the Sacramento Kings last night.
"It was a huge lift off of me," Iverson said. "I knew it would happen. You think every game you go out and play it's going to happen. It feels good. I wanted to get the monkey off my back. I'm just excited that I got my first win and I can now try to get a lot more."
Tayshaun Prince added 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons, who had lost their first two games since acquiring Iverson from Denver last week for all-star point guard Chauncey Billups, key reserve Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb.
After falling behind by 15 points early in the opener of a four-game West Coast road trip, the Pistons fought back to beat the short-handed Kings.
After the slow start for the Pistons, Iverson scored eight points and assisted on a three-point play by Kwame Brown in the first three minutes of the second quarter, carrying his new team like he had his old ones in Denver and Philadelphia for so long.
"I feel like in the first couple of games I wasn't as aggressive as they wanted me to be," he said. "It's hard coming into a situation where guys have been established. You just want to do the right thing. It's going to take a while, but I'm willing to take the challenge."
Sacramento played without its leading scorer, Kevin Martin, who is out at least a week after spraining his left ankle in a victory over Golden State on Sunday. With Martin out, John Salmons moved from small forward to shooting guard and rookie Jason Thompson got his first start, giving the Kings three players 6-foot-11 or taller in the starting lineup.
But Sacramento was unable to capitalize on the size advantage, with coach Reggie Theus pleading in vain at times with his big guys to "take the little guy down" low.
The Kings still led 77-75 heading into the fourth quarter but that's where they really missed Martin, who was averaging 22.4 points before the injury. Without their top scoring threat, the Kings went nearly five minutes without a point midway through the fourth and struggled to get good looks at the basket.
"It's a learning experience," Theus said. "You've got to learn how to win games."
Theus was also upset about the foul shooting disparity, calling it "ridiculous" that a road team got 36 fouls shots to just 17 for the Kings.
Iverson hit a big 3-pointer early in the quarter but the Pistons could not pull away. With the lead at two with under two minutes left, Thompson fouled Prince on a jump shot and he made both free throws to make it 94-90.
After a turnover by Beno Udrih at the other end, Richard Hamilton scored on a pretty give-and-go to make it a six-point game.
Spencer Hawes scored 19 points and Udrih added 18 for the Kings, who had won the first three games on their four-game homestand after starting the season 0-4 on the road.
"I really feel like we outplayed them for 42 minutes," Theus said.
"They are a veteran team and know how to win games down the stretch."