SACRAMENTO - An experienced lineup of veterans didn't panic after opening the season with five straight losses. Nearly two weeks after that awful start, the Detroit Pistons are on the mend.
Rodney Stuckey scored 17 points, and Ben Gordon hit a late 3 that sent the Pistons over Sacramento 100-94 Sunday, the Kings' fifth straight loss.
The Pistons have won four of five since their early slump.
"We thought we could have won all five of those games," said Gordon, who had eight points in the fourth quarter. "Now we're finishing games out like we know we can."
Gordon did his part with his typical clutch shooting in the fourth. His 3-pointer from the corner put the Pistons ahead 99-94 with 23.9 seconds left. He finished with 16 points despite only shooting six times.
Gordon made a pair of 3-pointers and all six free throws for Detroit, which outscored the struggling Kings 25-22 in the fourth quarter.
"That's where I've made my money - in the fourth quarter," Gordon said. "On the 3-pointer, Tayshuan [Prince] posted up, and my man went to help and turned his head. That left me open for a split second, and I hit the shot."
Prince had 12 of his 14 points in the second half for the Pistons. Richard Hamilton scored 13 points, and Charlie Villanueva added 11. Ben Wallace added 10 rebounds and a big block on Tyreke Evans' runner in the lane with 16.6 seconds left.
"We did a great job of coming up with big plays at the end," Detroit coach John Kuester said. "We valued the basketball in the second half. That was important, especially down the stretch. We didn't give away opportunities. We did some great things down the stretch."
Great things have definitely not been happening of late for the youthful Kings. After opening the season with a surprising 3-1 start, they haven't won. That includes four straight losses at home, where they are 1-4 this season. They are in the midst of playing eight of nine games at home, a stretch that extends to Nov. 21.
Making 2 of 18 3-point attempts against Detroit was a key part in the latest loss for Sacramento. The Kings have been held under 100 points in the last four games after scoring 100 or more in the opening five games.
"We had open 3s for really good shots and went 2 of 18. Sometimes that is the difference in the game in the NBA," Kings coach Paul Westphal said. "You like to think the difference is always how well you take care of the ball, how well you rebound, getting to the line more than the other team, and all that stuff. We didn't make shots. It was discouraging."
After Villanueva's two free throws gave Detroit a four-point lead, a driving basket by DeMarcus Cousins pulled the Kings within 94-92 with 1:52 remaining. But Prince answered with a pull-up jumper in the lane.
Ahead 75-72 to open the fourth quarter, Villanueva made a jumper and followed with a 3-pointer, putting the Pistons up by eight points at the 10:17 mark.