Game Preview: Pistons Heating Up and Hosting the Struggling Kings

Monday night the Pistons (21-24) will be finishing up a three-game game homestand as they play host to the Kings (16-27). The game is a 7:30 EST tip-off and will be a rematch of a game we saw just under two weeks ago.

Projected lineups:

Pistons: Jackson, Bullock, Morris, Harris and Drummond.

Kings: Collison, Temple, Afflalo, Cousins and Koufos.

In that game we witnessed a troubling Pistons collapse, resulting in a 94-100 Sacramento win. However, it is unlikely this game will resemble the first one for many reasons.

Sacramento is a team who has seen limited success in recent weeks. In fact, they’ve only won twice in their last ten games, with their most recent win coming 13 days against the Pistons. Even as a team that’s 11 games under .500, the Kings are playing particularly bad lately. Part of that is the loss of the team’s second leading scorer, Rudy Gay.

Gay suffered a torn Achilles in Wednesday’s game vs the Pacers. He had been averaging nearly 19 points per game this season as well as over 6 rebounds per game. Gay didn’t have a good shooting night in the last meeting between these two teams, but he did put up 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. This might be good news for Pistons fans, except for the fact Detroit is also dealing with injuries of their own.

Good news on the medical front, John Leuer (who missed the game two weeks ago) is back in the Pistons rotation. The bad news is that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is still dealing with a shoulder injury and is expected to miss this game. KCP played very well in Sacramento, leading the team with 21 points and putting up the second most team rebounds with 5. His absence will of course, be felt in this game after leading the way in the last match. However, even without KCP, the Pistons have really been finding their groove lately.

Detroit is entering this game on three-gameme winning streak, including wins over two teams they are chasing in the eastern conference playoff hunt. Over this time Detroit has showed a greatly improved effort on the defensive front. After allowing 100+ points in the previous six games (where they went 2-4) the Pistons held the Lakers and Hawks under the century mark. They also showed great energy through three quarters against Washington before nearly blowing another big lead to the Wizards in the fourth quarter.

If I had to point to one player who has been at the heart of the Pistons recent success it would be Marcus Morris. He put up 23 points and 9 rebounds in L.A., 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists vs Atlanta, as well as 25 points (including the game winner) and 11 rebounds vs Washington. This resurgence from Mook coming after what seemed like a two month slump for the Pistons forward.

Key match up: The key to this game will be slowing down the Kings super star big man, DeMarcus Cousins. The man they call “Boogie” is averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds a game this season. He put up 24 points, 13 boards and 6 assists (including two late three to help complete the Kings rally) the last time these teams met. It will be up to not only Andre Drummond, but the entire group of Pistons big men in a combined effort to slow the versatile Cousins down. Expect to see him play some power forward and some center.

Injury report.

As stated earlier, KCP is expected to miss this game.

Rudy Gay is out for the rest of the year with that torn Achilles.

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