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Apr. 9—Every game brings something different.
Even with two starters out, the Pistons found an alternate combination and a way to come out with another good game.
No Jerami Grant and no Mason Plumlee. No problem.
The Pistons played solid on both ends of the court and outlasted the Sacramento Kings, 113-101, on Thursday night at Golden 1 Center. It was their second win in three games on a five-game western road trip.
Without their leading scorer, the Pistons (16-36) identified other sources for production. They got 24 points and seven assists from Cory Joseph, 16 points and a season-high 13 rebounds from Isaiah Stewart and 11 points from Killian Hayes.
Joseph, who came to the Pistons in the deadline trade with the Kings for Delon Wright, had the formula, going 10-of-14 from the field and scoring on several drives to the basket.
In the final minutes, after the Kings had cut the lead to single digits, Joseph hit back-to-back jumpers to make it an 11-point advantage and put the game out of reach. Without two of their best veteran players, it was a different spot for Joseph to close out the game in crunch time.
"These guys are in a new role as far as closing tough games and teams running back on you like that, and that's where you really miss Mason and Jerami," coach Dwane Casey said. "Who is your go-to guy? Who's the guy who is going to get that tough shot? Who's that guy want to take care of the ball and make decisions with the ball?
"We didn't do a good job down the stretch, but this is why those guys are learning. This time next year, hopefully, they will have been in these situations multiple times and they'll learn from it."
The Kings (22-30) trailed, 100-86, with 7:05 remaining, but put together a 16-5 run, with DeAaron Fox (23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) scoring eight points and Tyrese Haliburton three points during the spurt. That pulled them within nine.
Joseph ended the challenge with his heroics, giving the Pistons some momentum heading to the final two games of the road trip, at Portland on Saturday and at the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
The Pistons had a hot start in the first quarter, jumping to a 15-8 lead in the first seven minutes, including a highlight-reel dunk and a putback by Dennis Smith Jr.
The Kings responded with a basket by Fox and a 3-pointer by Buddy Hield (15 points) but Saddiq Bey answered with 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, and the Pistons had a 27-23 lead entering the second quarter.
"It was very important that we throw the first punch and play hard from the very start," said Stewart, who got the start in place of Plumlee.
The Pistons surged in the second quarter, with Sekou Doumbouya's three-point play at the 7:07 mark pushing the lead to 42-29.
Hayes got going in the second quarter with a pair of baskets, and then at the end of the third quarter with another basket. He followed with a nice step-back 3-pointer early in the fourth, which extended the lead to 94-76. The Pistons' 18-point lead seemed to be safe before the Kings' push in the final minutes.
They also got a boost off the bench from Jahlil Okafor, who hadn't played since Jan. 30 and chipped in 11 points in 15 minutes.
The win gives the Pistons some momentum as they move to the final two games of the road trip, with an opportunity to take three of the five games.
"Just continue to try to build off that," Stewart said. "We have a couple more games on the road trip and to get two of them before the next ones, we just need that momentum going."