It wasn't easy, and it wasn't pretty for most of it, but the Warriors continued their best start in West Coast history with their eighth win of the young season, overcoming a feisty group of young Pistons at Oracle, 109-95.
First Quarter: 27-15
Klay Thompson got the Warriors going early. The first time he got touched the ball, it was readily apparent he had no intentions of making a play for anyone else. Luckily he's still a great shooter even on bad shots. He started hot, making his first three shots of the night.
The Pistons opened like four Klay Thompsons and one Andre Drummond, except instead of forcing their own looks they forced their big man looks. The first three Pistons possessions were ended by a Drummond make, miss, and TO.
Festus Ezeli, starting in place of a mending Andrew Bogut, showcased a great instance of spacing and floor positioning as he floated into just the right spot for Steph Curry to hit him, as Curry also utilized his great gravity to pull Ezeli's defender out from the rim.
Ezeli had good help with Drummond early on, as the Warriors elected to double anytime the big fella touched the ball on the low block. He also had a "bad" block, decided it best to humiliate a guard with an out-of-bounds block instead of making the easy tap inbounds.
Steph began the game with a pair of nice steals and 1-5 shooting from the field and his second consecutive game with missed FTs in the First Quarter. He also had his biggest defensive lapse in the early season, completely getting burned on an out-of-bounds play on a backdoor cut (that was off of the aforementioned "bad" block from Ezeli).
Bogut made his first appearance since opening night to a standing ovation and, yeah, he definitely looks more active this year, sans 20 lbs from last season. Immediately on the first offensive possession, he tapped in a Curry missed layup. Next possession he hit Curry with a backdoor cut (that synchronicity, again), and had an emphatic (dare I say... Ezeli-esque?) putback... that was waived off for basket interference (Clippers fans in LA collectively turned in their graves).
The defense was once again solid. The most unique look was the Drummond scheme, which... might not have been completely necessary. The occasional blitz may have sufficed.
Stan Van Gundy's squads are known to be put through the most rigorous conditioning in the league, but that was all but apparent early on. Drummond and co. were breathing heavy late in what can't really be described as an up-and-down affair. SEGABABA was in effect.
Second Quarter: 55-46
The Second opened up with the traditional lineup, with Bogut in Marreese Speights' place early (Speights would check in a few minutes in, re-jumping Jason Thompson in the lineup). Shaun Livingston and Marcus Morris traded long two's early on.
And, man, there were some instances of Andre Iguodala just making the Detroit transition defense look bad. Speights continues to struggle, missing tap-ins and shots that went in last year. The Pistons hit their first seven shots, leading to Curry coming in with 7:20 remaining. The Warriors fouled another three point shooter.
Klay passed to Curry! And Curry passed it back to Klay! And Klay passed AGAIN! And Barbosa finished off the best instance of perfect ball movement all night with a beautiful triple. Who else felt that go in before it did? That's called conditioning. We've become conditioning to the Warriors' 'moments' just working out... perfectly.
The Pistons' reserves, with Morris, actually cut the lead and appeared to just play harder than their starting counterparts, effectively cutting into the Warriors' lead and pushing their overall FG% up to 49%, eclipsing the Warriors' 47%.
Draymond Green was put on Morris halfway through the Quarter and he scored one more point for the Half after that.
Curry made a few mistakes in defensive transition, going for steals instead of rotating back to stop the break. It was simple mistakes such as these, rather than Drummond outmuscling the Warriors on the block, that held the Warriors back in the First Half.
Dubs lead down to 4 with 2:24 left in the half— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) November 10, 2015
Ezeli was finding players a bit better than he would have last season, garnering two assists in the First Half; yet he was still missing passes that Bogut would have seen.
The Warriors closed the Quarter strong, defending and finding the range (which was shaky, but miles better than it was at Sacramento) on offense, to put the lead back up to 55-46.
Reggie Jackson, the Pistons' starting point man, had an efficient 12 points on 10 shots, but buoyed the Warriors with four giveaways at the break. Drummond was so-so, sporting a black-eye -10 +/- (SSS be damned) and six points on eight shots. He had possessions where he got exactly what he wanted in the post, but the Warriors' early-game strategy appeared to wear on him throughout the Half, leading to an ultimately subdued Second Quarter.
Defensively, the Piston guards, particularly Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, were feisty on screens. Stan can get 'em to play hard.
The Warriors outscored the Pistons by 19 with Curry on the floor; and got jumped in an alley to the tune of -10 when he sat. The Pistons' reserves Stanley Johnson and familiar face Steve Blake were perhaps the biggest contributors to the Pistons keeping the score close in the First Half when Curry sat, combining for a perfect shooting performance for 13 points.
Third Quarter: 80-76
Curry found Thompson on a dangerous cross-court pass to open the Half, leading to a Klay three. Curry then pushed it ahead to Green after a good defensive stand by Klay, leading to a quick Van Gundy timeout out of halftime. And, man, SVG must've stolen Fitz's lunch money when they were little or something. For doing the correct coaching move, Fitz sure had his feathers indignantly ruffled more than usual.
Typical for the game, the Pistons surged in response to the Warriors' run. Steph shot a three on a one-on-four fastbreak.
Curry had a great go-ahead pass to Barnes, who flashed fantastic floor vision by penetrating and kicking to an open Klay, who made the trey for the largest lead of the night to that point, 66-51. KCP and co. continued their rugged, hard defense, as multiple players hit the floor on the ensuing offensive possession, which ended with Festus making his 3rd and 4th FTs of the night (out of four).
That's the 800th three-pointer of Klay Thompson's career, joining Stephen Curry as the only Warriors with 800+ career threes— GSWStats (@gswstats) November 10, 2015
The Warriors suffered their first loss of the season, as Jim Barnett misspoke that Drummond spent three years at UConn.
The Pistons kept grinding against the stone, as halfway through the Third they had a total of eight assists on 21 FGs. Despite the lack of movement, they continued to hang around with the Warriors through their physical presence on defense and rugged shot-making on offense.
Luke inexplicably went small with 4:21 left in the Third. It's not so much that a bigger lineup can take advantage of them--the entire 2015 Playoffs proved otherwise. It's that SBDS is a silver bullet--e.g., limited ammo. We don't want Draymond Green retiring early because he had to bang against 40 lbs of extra bulk every night for 15 minutes.
The Pistons scraped and ruggedly manhandled the Warriors defensively into a bad stretch, which the Pistons took advantage of to close the gap to six. These Pistons are basically the Grizzlies without experience and a bit more range.
The Warriors' response to the physicality was... disappointing. Draymond barked at the refs instead of transfusing his emotion into the game. There was a lot of looking at the refs in the late Third.
Detroit used a late surge, fueled by KCP finding range and Reggie Jackson chucking with no regard for human life, to climb within four. Just look at the Warriors' body language.
Fourth Quarter: 109-95
Bogut, Livingston, Barbosa, Iguodala, and Barnes opened up in the Fourth. The Warriors played 24 seconds of defense before coughing up the rebound. The Pistons were just hustling with manic energy.
Bogut threw a pass out of bounds trying to find a cutting Liv. Barbosa continues to throw darts at the rim when he can't find an angle.
The Warriors broke the lid off the basket after two minutes with an Iguodala breakaway dunk, before Marcus Morris hit another long two over Barnes. Barnes bit him back, hitting a clutch three off a good Livingston skip pass.
The Warriors put on the clamps defensively, spurring a 10 - 0 run after Barnes' play, fueled by five points from the struggling Blur. Barbosa struggled mightily on his drives up until then. He and Liv combined for a blitzing trap on Steve Blake once he crossed the timeline, leading to a quick Livingston score on the break that pushed the score to 92 -78.
Barbosa hit another pull up shot from midrange after a Van Gundy timeout. Bogut then had a nice connection with Klay for a Klay jumper. Bogut is the king of backdoor passes. Barnes returned again with a driving layup.
Curry hit a big three, as he is wont to do. Van Gundy didn't like the illegal screen Green got away with, but the referees struggled all night to call a consistent game.
Andre and Ezeli and Curry got floored on the next three consecutive possessions. The Pistons' isolation offense eventually stalled out as the Warriors kept chugging in the Fourth, leading to the final score of 109 - 95.
Klay wasn't necessarily playing bad before, but this sort of felt more like a vintage Klay performance, which the Warriors admittedly needed to get over the hump against this rough Detroit team.
Honestly, there's not much we found out about the Warriors tonight when compared to what we found out about Detroit.
Drummond was meh, but I haven't seen enough of him this year to determine if that was because of the Warriors' defensive scheme or SEGABABA or just him being meh. But the duo of young mustangs the Pistons have in KCP and Johnson are pretty impressive from a pure hustle and defensive intensity standpoint.
Iguodala was active as a shooter, Draymond fought on the boards despite his incessant whining, Barnes and Bogut played great, Livingston continues to float somewhere in between the greatest luxury in the league and an outright indispensable member of the platoon.
The box score, if you're into that stuff.
Voices of GSoM
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