SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Detroit Pistons death spiral continued Thursday night. It continued without Blake Griffin. Griffin was given the night off for rest, sparing the star forward from taking part in 112-102 loss to the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. He also wasn’t around to watch Luke Kennard’s anger on the Pistons bench after he was yanked by first-year coach Dwane Casey late in the first half. But that’s the least of the Pistons’ problems as they have won only four times in their last 20 games. The Kings (21-21) shot 51.2 percent saw seven players score in double figures in cruising to an easy victory — the Pistons’ second loss on this four-game trip with two more games left. Stanley Johnson scored 16 points in 23 minutes — with Reggie Bullock and Bruce Brown adding 15 for the Pistons (17-23). The Pistons’ two main players behind Griffin struggled. Andre Drummond managed 12 points and 11 rebounds — to go along with seven turnovers. Reggie Jackson scored six points on 3-for-11 shooting. He was 0-for-5 from 3-point range. After a stretch that lasted less than two minutes, Casey subbed Brown for Kennard. The Pistons’ second-year shooting guard walked to the end of the bench, but grew visibly agitated. He yelled at Pistons assistants before being pulled away by Pistons assistant coaches Tim Grgurich and Corey Gaines. With the team struggling, you would think sitting Griffin would be a tough decision. It was. But Casey, with direct consultation from the medical staff and the front office, had predetermined the Kings game would be an off night. Griffin has remained healthy this season after several injury-marred years and the goal is to keep him that way. “I have to be disciplined to maintain his health,” Casey said. “We’re riding him like a thoroughbred and his usage rate is off the charts. We have to be careful and not just wear him down.” It’s the second time Griffin took the night off this season. He didn’t play a month ago at the Philadelphia 76ers. Casey said there are signs of wear, citing Griffin’s rebound numbers. He is averaging 8.3 rebounds per game, but only 6.1 the previous 10. “There’s some signs,” Casey said. “His rebounding has been down a little bit. A lot of his shots were short, as you noticed last night. “I think that’s a sign of a little fatigue — not a lot — but you want to maintain his freshness throughout January, February, March.” Backup point guard Ish Smith missed his 18th straight game with a torn right adductor, but Casey revealed before the game Smith has returned to practice on a limited basis and could return before the end of the trip. “He’s close,” Casey said. “I would say either the next game or (Monday night) against Utah.” The Pistons are 4-14 since Smith limped off the floor at Milwaukee on Dec. 7. Contact Vince Ellis: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @vincent_ellis56 . Download our Pistons Xtra app on iTunes or Android !