Perhaps still smarting from last night's 26-point loss to the shorthanded Warriors, the Kings return to the court tonight against the Detroit Pistons. Here are a few things to keep an eye on during the game, which begins at 7 p.m. at Power Balance Pavilion:
1. Will the Kings take this one seriously? The Kings lost to the Pistons in Detroit on Feb. 17, 114-108, and at 14-28 aren't really in a position to under-prepare for games. But not getting up for non-marquee opponents has been an issue for the Kings (see their last two losses). The 15-27 Pistons are a team that could pose a problem in that regard. It will be interesting to see how the Kings respond after last night's loss to the Warriors, which veteran forward-center Chuck Hayes said was embarrassing.
2. DeMarcus Cousins could be in line for another big game. Cousins was dominant last time these teams played, with 26 points and 15 rebounds, but the Kings stopped going to him on offense late in a 114-108 loss. Cousins has looked more like himself the last two games after his brush with food poisoning. If Cousins starts strong tonight, the Kings may want to keep working through him.
3. The Kings must finish around the rim. Head coach Keith Smart said after the Kings' loss to the Warriors that he thought players were "loose with the basketball" and had too many unfinished plays in the paint. That has been more than a one-game issue. Finishing those plays will be just as important against the Pistons, who are one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA and one of two teams that allow fewer than 10 offensive rebounds per game. They won't give the Kings many second chances.
4. The Kings could use a spark from the bench. If the starters come out flat it will be up to the Kings' bench to provide some energy. John Salmons has been a more reliable shooter since the All Star break, though last night against the Warriors was the first time in five games he scored fewer than 10 points.
5. But fatigue should not be an issue. Yes, the Kings are playing the second game of a back-to-back. But Smart used all 13 of his available players against the Warriors last night, saying after the game that he was keeping tonight's game in mind. Jason Thompson hardly played at all in the second half, so he should be fresh, and Cousins was the only Kings starter who played more than 33 minutes (he played 37).