NBA Basketball

Pistons have health concerns before Kings game

The Detroit Pistons could be without two key players when they host the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.

Center Andre Drummond, the league's leading rebounder, and reserve point guard Ish Smith departed in the first half of a 98-93 victory over Miami on Friday. Drummond suffered a nasal contusion when he was elbowed by the Heat's James Johnson.

Smith played briefly before heading to the locker room with groin tightness. It was just his third game since missing more than a month with an adductor tear.

Coach Dwane Casey is "hopeful" Drummond will play while listing Smith as "day-to-day."

The Pistons (20-24) led by as much as 16 in the first half, fell behind after getting outscored 30-12 in the third quarter, then rallied back in the final quarter.

"It's one of our habits we've got to break," Casey said. "As soon as they make a run, we drop our heads, drop our shoulders, our energy level goes down. Winning teams, championship teams, don't do that. You can't."

Power forward Blake Griffin had another monster game, racking up 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. The Pistons also received a big contribution from second-year guard Luke Kennard, who scored 22 points off the bench.

"Luke is showing he's going to be a dynamic wing player," Casey said. "He hit some big shots."

If Drummond can't play, the Pistons will rely on Zaza Pachulia and perhaps Jon Leuer to fill the void. Leuer was inactive on Friday. Smith's absence would thrust 37-year-old Jose Calderon into the backup role behind Reggie Jackson.

The Kings (23-22) began a six-game road swing with a 114-95 loss at Charlotte on Thursday. Sacramento trailed throughout the second half after giving up 43 points in the second quarter.

"We've got to have a short memory and move on," center Marvin Bagley told the Sacramento Bee. "We've got another one in a couple days and we've just got to bounce back."

Shooting guard Buddy Hield made six 3-pointers en route to 24 points and is averaging 4.3 long-range makes this month. He was unimpressed by his individual contribution.

"It means nothing," Hield told the Bee. "We still lost. Winning basketball games is more important. We have to get the next one."

The Kings had an early 13-point lead, and coach Dave Joerger believes his team got complacent. Sacramento defeated Charlotte at home five nights earlier.

"I think we got lulled to sleep a little bit by making some shots early and the rest of the game they just lined it up and went straight at us," he said. "Hats off to them. They were not going to be denied the second time playing each other in a short amount of time."

The Kings won the first meeting with the Pistons 112-102 on Jan. 10 behind a balanced attack. They had seven double-figure scorers that night, led by Hield with 18 points.

The victory came with an asterisk as Casey rested Griffin that evening. Drummond and Leuer were the only available big men that night, forcing Detroit to use four-guard lineups at times. Sacramento had a 57-40 rebounding advantage.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 18, 2019

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