By Matthew Harrington
It would be hard to believe on a night when David Lee wasn’t even in the building, Andrew Bogut nursed a nagging shoulder injury and Stephen Curry‘s silky-smooth shooting touch went rough that the Warriors would walk away with a W. Monday night proved that anything is possible with the red-hot Dubs, winners now of four in a row since the All-Star break. The Detroit Pistons (23-34) became victim number four, falling at the hands of the Warriors 104-96 at the Palace of Auburn Hills despite Curry nailing just 6 of 15 field goals attempted.
With Andrew Bogut returning to play after injuring his shoulder seven games ago and David Lee missing his second-straight contest with the flu, the load was placed firmly on the shoulders of the Warriors’ lone All-Star Curry. The Human Torch remained relatively damp, hitting only 3 of 9 three-pointers for 19 points but fed his teammates plenty while collecting nine assists. Guard Klay Thompson also had 19 points for the Warriors (35-22), including two that came on a dunk over Kyle Singler that sent the Pistons guard staggering into the stands.
Jermaine O’Neal, starting for Lee who didn’t join the Warriors on the trip, put together another solid performance, netting a second-straight double-double on 16 points and 10 rebounds. O’Neal previously sparked the Warriors 93-86 win over Brooklyn with 23 points and 13 rebounds Saturday night at Oracle Arena. Jordan Crawford had his best night in the blue and gold since coming over in a January trade, picking up 15 points in the Warriors first game of a six-game road trip.
The Piston big men took advantage of the absence of Lee and a limited Bogut (due to injury and foul trouble) with all three members of the starting frontcourt cracking double-digits in scoring. Forward Greg Monroe had a game-high 23 points and Josh Smith converted the double-double on 18 points and 11 boards. Starting center Andre Drummond picked up 11 points while Singler bounced back from the debilitating dunk to pick up a respectable 18 points.
The Pistons controlled play early, taking a 10-point lead with just over 5 minutes left in the 1st and the Warriors trailing 22-12. The Dubs closed out the quarter on a 21-15 lead to get within striking distance at 37-33. Golden State took its first lead since the 2:14 mark of the game after Harrison Barnes nailed a trey with 1:11 gone in the quarter. Just 35 seconds later, Crawford hit one from downtown to pad the Warriors edge to 41-37.
The two teams traded the lead twice over the rest of the half with the Warriors wresting it away from the Pistons for good on an Andre Iguodala layup with three minutes remaining to make it 55-54 for the visitors. The Warriors would head to the intermission clinging to a slim 63-62 advantage.
The two teams fought tooth and nail yet again in the second half, exchanging leads five times in the third to give the Pistons am 83-81 lead after 36 minutes of regulation. Down the stretch the Warriors limited Detroit to just 13 points while scoring 23 of their own to take home the victory, Golden State’s sixth consecutive victory over the Pistons.
Up next for the Warriors, three games back of the Los Angeles Clippers for first in the Pacific Division standings, is a trip to the United Airlines Center in Chicago for a Wednesday night showdown with the Chicago Bulls. The six game road trip also includes stops in New York, Toronto, Indiana and Boston.