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Pistons vs. Kings preview: Josh Smith's final audition

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Maybe Josh Smith might want to start taking down phone numbers now.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Coincidence?  I think not.  The Pistons meet the Kings days before Dec. 15 when trade restrictions are lifted.  Who's the one team with documented serious interest in Josh Smith?  Sacramento.  Think of this as the final audition for the lead role in the school play, or a job interview.  Why should we trade for you, Josh?  Sell yourself.

Game Vitals

Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, CA

When: 10 p.m. ET, Dec.13, 2014

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit (Plus?)

Happy Analysis After Recent Results

Weeeee are the champions, my frienndddd...nah...nah, and weeeeeeee'll keep on fighting till the ennnnnnd...nah...nah.  Ok you get the point.  The Pistons snapped a 13 game losing streak last night with a 105-103 victory in Phoenix, Andre Drummond having himself a night out with 23 and 14, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope adding 14 and messrs Smith, Monroe and Meeks each adding 12.  The Pistons looked somewhat competent in the valley of the sun, with the return of Jodie Meeks adding another dimension to a struggling offense.  Meeks made good use of screens and ran a variety of plays, including flaring to the corner if his man cheated the screen, or curling around back to the middle if his man was caught behind.  He exhibited a basketball IQ somewhat lacking recently and our offense looked somewhat smoother, but still with some improvement to do.

Josh Smith had a good first part of the game, as usual.  In one stretch late in the first, he stole a Phoenix inbounds pass and nailed a buzzer-beating three pointer before disrupting the subsequent inbounds, a stretch of plays sure to induce salivation as league GMs look for that All-Star talent to push them over the hump.  In truth, it was his usual game, with his inefficient shooting offset by his 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.  Still, another game where Smith shot in the 30-percent range is not good, but we won, so who cares?

We appear to have found a nice little combination in the backcourt, with D.J. Augustin and Jodie Meeks leading the second unit well.  Meeks' return also lifted minutes from KCP, as he only played 30 and Meeks 21, leading to fewer shot attempts for KCP and a more efficient night (5-9).

The Kings (11-12) enter the contest on the back of an overtime 113-109 loss to the Houston Rockets, where James Harden unleashed 44 points on the unsuspecting Sactown representatives.  For the Kings, Darren Collison had 24, Ben McLemore chipped in with 21 and Jason Thompson added 13 and 15 rebounds.  The Kings were playing plus .500 ball until DeMarcus Cousins went down with viral meningitis, and since then the Kings are 2-6, an unaffordable losing streak given the nature of the Western Conference.

Players To Watch

Pistons: Jodie Meeks

After a promising debut, it will be interesting to see how he fares on the tail end of a back to back.  My guess is that he'll play slightly less as he works back from his back injury, but it is still good to see him finally contributing, seeing as he was our "big money" acquisition.

Kings: Rudy Gay

Rudy Gay has been playing well lately.  He's scored 20 or more in six of the last eight games, as well as dishing five assists or more in five of the last six contests.  This can be attributed to his increased role on offense with the loss of Cousins, so look for him to be the focal point tonight.

Last Time We Met

March 11, 2014: Josh Smith had 24 and Rodney Stuckey added 23 as the Pistons swept the series with a 99-89 victory at The Palace.  Andre Drummond added 15 and 8 with 5 blocks, and Singler added 11.  Gay led the Kings with 20 and Isaiah Thomas added 19.

Score Prediction

You know what, we're going streaking.  With Cousins out, and confidence high after a morale boosting win in Phoenix, I feel good things are around the corner for this team.  Or we'll get hammered by 30.

Pistons 107, Kings 98

Lineup Prediction

Me predicting the big 3 here is based on hallucinations involving Kyle Singler defending Rudy Gay.

Pistons: Jennings, Caldwell-Pope, Smith, Monroe, Drummond

Kings: Collison, McLemore, Gay, Thompson, Evans

Injured/In Doubt

Pistons: No one (for once), maybe Meeks on a back to back (no pun intended)

Kings: Casspi (knee contusion - probable), Cousins (viral meningitis - out)

Community Question

Should the Pistons just leave Josh Smith in Sacramento before departing for Los Angeles.