Stuckey leads shorthanded Pistons over KingsJan 3, 2009 - 5:36 AM By Chuck Klonke PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- The Detroit Pistons were missing three key players but still had enough firepower to beat the struggling Sacramento Kings on Friday.
Rodney Stuckey scored 38 points while Allen Iverson and Tayshaun Prince each added 23 to lead the Pistons to their sixth straight win, a 98-92 victory over the Kings.
Stuckey's total were two short of his career high set on December 23 against Chicago.
"We came in shorthanded and we knew we were going to be playing a lot of minutes, so we just had to dig deep and just pretty much play," Stuckey said.
Starters Richard Hamilton (groin) and Rasheed Wallace (foot) did not dress for the game for the Pistons, whose first big man off the bench, Antonio McDyess, did not play because of sore ribs.
"I knew it would be rough, knowing they had their whole team and we were missing three guys who help us game in and game out," Iverson said. "But that's what being a team is all about -- other guys stepping up and contributing."
The loss was the seventh in eight games for Sacramento, which started a four-game road trip against Eastern Conference teams. The Kings fell to 2-14 on the road this season.
"It was definitely a winnable game for us, but down the stretch they hit a couple of shots and we didn't," Kings forward John Salmons said. "That was the game. It's frustrating to lose. We've been in a lot of close games all year, but we haven't been able to pull them out."
Detroit led for the entire second half but had its lead cut to three, 89-86, on a 3-pointer by Bobby Jackson.
Two layups by Stuckey - the second resulting in a three-point play - put Detroit ahead 94-86 with two minutes left. The Kings got back within four points on two free throws by Brad Miller, but Iverson hit a jumper from the corner with 15 seconds to go to secure the win.
"I knew I had an advantage at the point guard, so I was just being aggressive," Stuckey said. "Sometimes, they were focused on (Iverson), so I took advantage of just taking them 1-on-1. It worked to my advantage tonight and I'm going to continue to be aggressive."
However, Stuckey didn't hesitate when he saw Iverson alone in the corner as the game was winding down.
"I have all the confidence in the world in AI," Stuckey said. "Who doesn't?"
Sacramento's scoring was led by Miller, who had a season-high 23 points, and also pulled down 16 rebounds. Salmons scored 21 and Kevin Martin added 20 for the second straight game since returning to action after missing 10 games with a sore ankle.
The Kings shot only 34 percent from the field, the fourth straight game the Pistons have held their opponents to 40 percent or less, and the 10th in a row where the opponents have been held under 50 percent.
"We're starting to feel good as a team and we have that confidence, that swagger," Iverson said. "We didn't have that feeling at first after the trade happened, but it feels a lot better now. We get a chance in practice to be around each other and we can help each other on both ends of the floor."
Amir Johnson recorded his second double-double of the season with 10 points and 14 rebounds for Detroit.
The Pistons broke away from an 11-11 tie with an 18-5 run that was capped by Iverson's three-point play with 33 seconds left in the first quarter. Johnson scored eight of Detroit's points in the spurt.
The Pistons struggled from the floor in the second quarter, making only six of their 21 attempts and Sacramento closed the gap to 45-44 at halftime.
Salmons had 10 of his 12 first-half points in the second quarter and Martin came off the bench to add nine second-quarter points.
Detroit found its shooting eye at the start of the second half.
The Pistons hit six of their first eight shots, including three in a row by Stuckey, to build their lead back up to 58-49 with 7:20 left in the third quarter.
The quarter ended with Detroit leading, 73-66, but the Pistons quickly got the lead back into double digits with baskets by Stuckey and Prince during the first 41 seconds of the fourth quarter.
"When Stuckey sees the opportunity to attack, regardless of what the play call is, he attacks," Detroit coach Michael Curry said. "He is picking and choosing when to be aggressive. He also gave Allen a chance to be aggressive and he set him up and set Prince up. That's what we need."
Sacramento coach Kenny Natt felt that his team should have done a better job of containing Stuckey.
"We talk about being a better defensive team and I've told them that good team defense begins with good individual defense," Natt said. "It's very disappointing when a guy goes off on you like that."
DETROIT 98 FINAL
Jan 2 10:37 PM
DETROIT 73 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 2 9:56 PM
DETROIT 45 HALFTIME
Jan 2 9:08 PM
DETROIT 29 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 2 8:37 PM
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