Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/1/13
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Austin Daye endured a miserable shooting slump throughout last season and a 21-game benching this season. Given a chance to play regularly again, Daye has looked like a different player. Daye had a season-high 13 points, including a clinching 3-pointer with 11.5 seconds remaining, as the Detroit Pistons won their third straight game 103-97 over the Sacramento Kings at The Palace on Tuesday night. The fourth-year forward shot 32 percent from the field and 21 percent on 3-point tries last season but he's become a threat since replacing Corey Maggette in the rotation. Daye is shooting 45.5 percent overall and 65 percent from long range. "The basket still seems regular-sized but my confidence is just higher," he said. "I feel that a lot of the shots I take are going in and I'm not scared to take them." Coach Lawrence Frank said Daye had difficulty handling adversity last season but when he began this season at the end of the bench, he didn't sulk. "The biggest thing that stands out to me is professionalism," Frank said. "Not that he wasn't professional last year but this year when he and Charlie (Villanueva) weren't playing, they always stayed prepared, both on-court and in film preparation. He never hung his head, he was a great teammate and he stayed engaged during games. I thought he showed great maturity and it's amazing how far that can take you." Brandon Knight had a team-high 20 points and Greg Monroe, who recorded his first career triple-double at Sacramento in November, supplied 18 points and 11 rebounds. Will Bynum added 15 points as the Pistons (12-22) survived a late Kings rally to win for the fifth time in six games. DeMarcus Cousins, coming off his first career triple-double against Boston on Sunday, led the Kings with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Sacramento (11-20), which began a stretch of four road games in five nights, fell to 1-13 on the road. Villanueva was ejected for knocking Kings guard Isaiah Thomas to the floor with four seconds remaining in the first half. Thomas, who was struck in the head while driving to the basket, jumped up and attempted to go after Villanueva but was not penalized. The officials determined Villanueva, who was not initially called for a foul on the play, committed a Flagrant Two infraction after reviewing the replay. Villanueva wasn't available for comment afterward but Frank was skeptical of the severity of the foul. "They were saying because there was a forearm to it (an ejection was warranted)," he said. "Obviously, they had the benefit of video review. They said under the guidelines of the rule, it was a Flagrant Two. There's a process we'll follow to see if there's another interpretation of it." Sacramento played without two of its top three scorers. Marcus Thornton sat out with a sprained left ankle, suffered against Boston, while Tyreke Evans missed his 13th game this season with a sore left knee. "We were a little slow," coach Keith Smart said. "We have been playing at a nice, fast pace and we were a little heavy-legged. But sometimes that happens when you get out here on the first one of a road trip." Trailing 89-73 with just over eight minutes left, the Kings scored nine unanswered points and continued to chip away after Bynum ended the run with a 3-pointer. Jimmer Fredette's 3-pointer with 3:04 remaining pulled Sacramento within one, 94-93. Despite four missed free throws by Detroit in the late going, the Kings never caught up. Bynum pushed the lead back to five, 100-95, on two free throws with 42.7 seconds left. Daye's 3-pointer made it a six-point advantage. "We came back, played hard getting back in the game and Austin Daye made a huge shot at the end against good defense," Fredette said. "I thought we did a good job coming back into the game. Ultimately we came up short, so it hurts, but we'll move on to tomorrow." Prior to Villanueva's ejection, the Pistons controlled the second quarter after starting it with a 23-7 run. Andre Drummond finished it with a steal and dunk for a 50-35 Detroit lead. The Pistons were still up 10 at halftime, 58-48, with Knight and Bynum combining for 25 points. Cousins had 10 third-quarter points but Detroit maintained a double-digit advantage, carrying an 80-67 lead into the fourth. NOTES: Pistons sixth man Rodney Stuckey missed third consecutive game with a left ankle sprain. Stuckey and Corey Maggette, who had a calf strain at the start of the season, are the only Pistons to miss games because of injuries this season. ... Villanueva was suspended five games in April 2011 after a scuffle with Cleveland's Ryan Hollins. Both players were ejected from that game and Villanueva tried unsuccessfully to enter the visitors locker room to confront Hollins. The suspension was later reduced to four games. ... Ten players have led the Kings at least once in assists this season. ... Sacramento is 6-7 with Evans out of action. ... Forwards Jason Thompson and Chuck Hayes are the only Kings to appear in every game. ... Detroit has won eight of the last 10 meetings but lost 105-103 at Sacramento on Nov. 7.
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