AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — AUBURN HILLS — Isaiah Thomas was at the Palace Friday night.
Luckily, for the Pistons, it was Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight who played like Hall-of-Famers, not the Detroit legend’s near-namesake.
Stuckey and Knight combined for 59 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and one turnover as the Pistons rallied from 11 points down to beat the Sacramento Kings 114-108.
“I love playing with Brandon, and he’s just getting started,” said Stuckey, who scored a season-high 36. “He and I are going to have a lot of years together, and it is only going to get better.”
The Pistons have now won six of eight after a 4-20 start.
“This is a game that might have gotten away from us earlier this season, but we were able to hang in there tonight,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “It was good that we found a way to win this one. Obviously, there’s still a lot to work on, but we found a way to win.”
Without Stuckey, the Pistons might have gotten blown out in the first half. The Kings shot 55 percent from the floor and scored 30 fast-break points, making the Pistons look helpless defensively.
Stuckey, though, had 18 points in the first half, and Detroit trailed only 60-56 at the intermission.
“Stuck was carrying us in that half,” said Knight, who finished with 23 points and 10 assists. “He could get to the rim at will, and he was getting to the line. We knew we just had to start getting some stops in the second half.”
Not much changed in the third quarter — Stuckey had 13 more points, but Detroit only outscored the Kings 30-28 — but the defense finally showed in the fourth.
“We were getting easy baskets as long as we kept pushing the ball, but it was our defense that won us that game,” Stuckey said. “It was just about finally getting stops.”
The Pistons held the Kings to 36 percent shooting in the fourth, with Ben Wallace playing a key role on DeMarcus Cousins. That allowed Knight to take over the game down the stretch. He scored 10 points and added two assist and three offensive rebounds.
“That was fun,” said Frank, usually a bigger fan of defensive basketball. “It might not have been a grind-it-out defensive epic like you saw here in the 80s, but it was our defense that that pulled it out in the end. We got just enough stops.”
Oh, and the other Isaiah Thomas?
The rookie out of Washington made his first career start, and finished with 13 points, four assists and three turnovers. Not quite the 31 points Isiah Thomas scored in his first game, but not bad.