Ivey, NBA-worst Pistons throttle Kings in front of sold-out G1C

Feb 7, 2024, 9:56 PM | Updated: 10:14 pm

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 07: Jaden Ivey #23 of the Detroit Pistons shoots the ball against...

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

On the heels of a successful–but lengthy–seven-game road trip, it was clear that the Sacramento Kings had to take care of business on Wednesday night.

Facing the owner of the NBA’s worst record in the Detroit Pistons (6-43), it was imperative that Sacramento pick up a win before entering a brutal stretch of its schedule that includes three matchups against the defending champion Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder, and more.

Instead, the Kings gave us another submission for the ‘worst loss of the season’ conversation.

Jaden Ivey erupted for 14 of his career-high 37 points during the fourth quarter as Detroit routed Sacramento by a final of 133-120 in front of a capacity crowd at Golden 1 Center.

We’ve seen the Kings (29-21) fall to teams that are near the bottom of the NBA standings, but the loss to the Pistons established a new low as Detroit took the floor without its top two leading scorers in Cade Cunningham and Bojan Bogdanovic.

The timing of the loss is more intriguing when you factor in Thursday’s 12:00 PM PST NBA trade deadline, as the concerns surrounding this current roster loomed large during the latest disappointing effort from the 2023-24 Sacramento Kings.

Kings vs. Pistons Recap & Takeaways

While the Detroit Pistons might have entered play in possession of the NBA’s worst record (6-43) and without several key players like former first-overall pick Cade Cunningham and sharpshooting forward Bojan Bogdanovic, it became clear early that Wednesday’s matchup wouldn’t be a walk in the park for the Kings.

Thanks to strong starts from last year’s fifth-overall pick, Jaden Ivey, and former Sacramento guard Alec Burks, Detroit stayed right with Sacramento during the first half while controlling the battle of the paint (28-20) and boards (28-16).

While the Pistons opened up the night with plenty of energy, the Kings struggled to find consistency on offense–especially during the second quarter.

Outside of Kevin Huerter’s strong start (12 first-half points on 4/7 from 3PT) and Trey Lyles’ 13 points off the bench, Sacramento didn’t get much from its supporting cast as De’Aaron Fox (five points) and Keegan Murray (0 points, 4 fouls) struggled.

The Kings’ nine-point first-half lead was erased and then some as Detroit finished the second quarter on a 17-5 run that put Sacramento in a 70-63 hole at the break.

Call it first-game-back-from-road-trip jitters, call it whatever you want–whatever it was, the Kings needed to respond in the second half if they wanted to avoid dropping a game to the NBA’s worst team.

The Pistons kept their foot on the gas entering the third quarter by stretching the lead to 15 as a sellout crowd at Golden 1 Center showered Sacramento with boos.

Then, a switch flipped.

Behind a huge effort from Domantas Sabonis (14 points in the third) that was capped off by a buzzer-beating triple from the corner–his first corner three of the season–and Lyles’ red-hot shooting, the Kings ended the third quarter on a 27-10 run to take a 99-97 lead into the fourth.

A one-silent audience was ignited as Sacramento found itself back in the driver’s seat with 12 minutes to play. Through the rough ending to the first half and sizable deficit to open up the third quarter, the Kings responded and punched back when they needed to most.

As encouraging as it was to see Sacramento show signs of life heading into the fourth, the run came to a screeching halt once play entered the final period.

The Kings’ offense stalled late as Ivey and the Pistons quickly regained control during the opening minutes of the fourth. Ivey and Burks knocked down triple after triple while De’Aaron Fox (12 points on 5/14 FG) struggled to knock down his normally automatic looks inside the paint.

Detroit caught fire during crunch time, as they went 11-of-16 (69%) from the floor during the fourth quarter, including six-of-eight (75%) from beyond the arc.

With Ivey nearly automatic and Sacramento unable to knock down shots late (10/26, 38% FG in the fourth), the Pistons took control for good and never looked back as 17,832 fans relayed their displeasure as they headed for the exits.

“The way we played the game, especially defensively, was not good,” Kings head coach Mike Brown said of his team’s lackluster effort on the defensive end. “Detroit had their way with us. Jaden Ivey, he torched us. Jalen Duren, he was a handful.”

On a night that they needed to show up and toss another tally in the ‘W’ column before entering an unforgiving stretch of the regular season schedule, the Kings fell flat against a Pistons team that had lost 43 of their 49 games this season.

Inexcusable. Embarrassing. Concerning. Take your pick, but we’ve seen this type of performance from this group before–and that’s the problem.

As we’ve seen from Sacramento before this season, there was no clear sense of urgency from the Kings on Wednesday.

Detroit battled on the glass, out-rebounding and out-hustling Sacramento 48-33 on the boards, while the Kings struggled to contain a red-hot Pistons offense–especially on the perimeter (17-of-31, 54%).

Of course, it wouldn’t be a classic Sacramento meltdown if free-throw shooting wasn’t taken into account:

  • Detroit: 22/22 (100%)
  • Sacramento: 15/22 (68%)

A lot went wrong for the Kings. It’s hard to pinpoint one specific area because many things went awry.

Fox struggled. Keegan Murray, who got into foul trouble early, was thoroughly outplayed by Ivey, who was selected one pick after him in the 2022 NBA Draft (37 points vs. 0 points).

Games like tonight act as a stern reminder that Sacramento is a good team, but there are levels to becoming a true contender in the NBA. As good as the Kings are, they aren’t great–and that’s going to need to be addressed at some point. If not during Thursday’s trade deadline, the offseason could be full of changes if this group doesn’t maximize its potential.


  • Domantas Sabonis racked up his 33rd-straight double-double during the loss: 30 PTS | 12 REB | 7 AST

When is the next Sacramento Kings game?

Sacramento will begin a brutal portion of its regular season schedule on Friday night when they face the defending champion Denver Nuggets at Golden 1 Center.

The Kings will face Denver (three times), Oklahoma City, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Clippers, and Minnesota Timberwolves over their next ten games.

Be sure to tune in right here on Sactown Sports 1140 for all of your Kings vs. Nuggets coverage, beginning at 5:30 PM PST on Game Night before a 7:00 PM PST tip-off from downtown Sacramento.

Upcoming Schedule

  • Friday, February 9th – Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets – 7:00 PM PST
  • Sunday, February 11th – Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 12:00 PM PST
  • Tuesday, February 13th – Sacramento Kings @ Phoenix Suns – 7:00 PM PST
  • Wednesday, February 14th – Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets – 6:00 PM PST
  • NBA All-Star break – February 15-21
  • Thursday, February 22nd – Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs – 7:00 PM PST

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