Austin Daye had only one thought when he caught a pass on the right wing on the game’s crucial possession.
”Don’t pass it. Shoot it,” he said.
Not that he had much choice.
With the shot clock running down, Daye made a 3-pointer with 11.5 seconds left, helping the Detroit Pistons seal a 103-97 win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
Daye’s shot – after a pressured Tayshaun Prince found him with a pass – gave the Pistons a six-point lead.
”When I get the ball with time left on the clock, I’m trying to get off a good shot,” Daye said. ”Tayshaun found me in a good spot and I let it go.”
Greg Monroe had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons, who have won three in a row for the first time this season. Sacramento cut a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to one, but Detroit was able to hold on.
The Pistons have won five of six, in large part because of terrific play from their reserves. The group scored 44 points Tuesday despite losing Charlie Villanueva to a second-quarter ejection.
DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the Kings.
The Pistons led 89-73 before Sacramento’s late rally. The Kings had a chance to take the lead with Detroit in front 96-95, but the Pistons forced a shot clock violation when Prince blocked a shot.
”We were our own worst enemy. We went real stale offensively,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. ”We’re fortunate to win the game.”
Monroe made one of two free throws with 1:26 remaining, and Aaron Brooks turned the ball over at the other end. After Brandon Knight made a free throw, Jimmer Fredette’s driving attempt was short. Detroit’s Will Bynum made it a five-point game with two free throws.
The Kings would have had one more chance to tie, but just when it looked as if they were going to get a crucial defensive stop, Daye connected for his second 3-pointer of the game.
Fredette scored 13 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter for Sacramento.
”We came back, played hard getting back into the game, and Austin Daye made a huge shot at the end against good defense,” Fredette said. ”Ultimately came short, so it hurts, but we’ll move on to tomorrow.”
Knight finished with 20 points despite briefly hurting his right ankle in the second half. Bynum and Daye, two backups, had 15 and 13 points, respectively.
”Everybody chipping in and there is a lot of balance,” Knight said. ”I have to congratulate my teammates for the way we’ve been playing together and how guys have been stepping it up and really doing their part.”
Villanueva scored nine points before being thrown out for a flagrant foul late in the second quarter. Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas drove the lane and was knocked hard to the floor by Villanueva. Thomas then got up and appeared to swing his right arm quickly at Villanueva. Officials reviewed the play and ejected Villanueva. Thomas was not penalized.
Detroit led by as many as 15 in the second, and it was 58-48 at halftime.
”We were a little slow,” Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. ”We have been playing at a nice fast pace and we were a little heavy legged but sometimes that happens when you get out here on the first one of a road trip.”
Notes: Official Leroy Richardson appeared to trip along the sideline opposite the scorer’s table in the third quarter. After staying down for a while with what looked like a right leg injury, he was able to continue. … Cousins and Monroe were taken with the fifth and seventh picks of the 2010 draft.