By NOAH TRISTER/AP Sports Writer
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Josh Smith scored 24 points and Rodney Stuckey added 23 to lift the Detroit Pistons to a 99-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.
Andre Drummond added 15 points and eight rebounds for Detroit, outscoring DeMarcus Cousins in a matchup of two of the NBA’s top young big men. Cousins had 13 points and 14 rebounds but shot 5 of 15 from the field.
Detroit trailed 54-52 at halftime, but outscored the Kings 20-11 in the third quarter.
Rudy Gay scored 20 points and Isaiah Thomas added 19 points and eight assists for Sacramento.
The Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak and pulled to within three games of Atlanta for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Pistons will need a strong finish to make the postseason, and they’ve shown little sign of one. But they put the Kings away with impressive starts to the third and fourth quarters.
Detroit began the third on an 8-0 run thanks to a dunk by Drummond and 3-pointers by Smith and Brandon Jennings. An alley-oop from Smith to Drummond on the break made it 69-60.
It was 72-65 after three, and Detroit started the fourth with six straight points.
The Pistons won despite a rough shooting night from their two point guards. Jennings and Will Bynum combined to go 5 of 24 – although they did finish with 13 assists between them.
Cousins dunked on Drummond early in the game, giving the Kings a 12-6 lead, but the Pistons kept him under control for the most part. Drummond blocked a shot by Cousins out of bounds later in the first quarter.
Greg Monroe, who was drafted two spots after Cousins in 2010, had six points and 12 rebounds for Detroit.
NOTES: There was a moment of silence before the game in honor of William Clay Ford, who died Sunday. Ford was the last surviving grandchild of automotive pioneer Henry Ford and owner of the Detroit Lions. … Sacramento’s Ray McCallum, who played college basketball at Detroit, scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. … The Kings did match up well with Detroit inside, outscoring the Pistons and their imposing front line 18-8 on second-chance points. … Sacramento shot 3 of 15 from 3-point range, and in the second half the Kings went 6 of 17 on free throws.
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