Warriors hand plummeting Pistons eighth straight loss
Auburn Hills — With his young center playing lifelessly and picking up his fourth foul early moments of the third quarter, Stan Van Gundy was incredulous, yelling "Fight! Fight!", as the game predictably slipped away.
One has to wonder if it was then, or at any point in the game where Van Gundy's thoughts drifted to what could have been, had he taken over the team he watched give the Pistons (3-14) their eighth straight loss and 11th and 12, the Golden State Warriors.
But the Warriors (14-2) weren't offering Van Gundy total control this past offseason, and now he has total responsibility to fix this mess, one displayed on a Sunday afternoon for all to observe at The Palace, a 104-93 loss to perhaps the best team in the Western Conference.
Of all the control he has, Van Gundy can't control the Pistons going 16 of 53 inside the paint, as they made seven of 27 in that range in the first half. As a whole, the Pistons shot 36 percent, a season low.
For the sixth time this season, they scored 40 or less before halftime — and for the umpteenth time, getting back on defense became a chore they were unable to finish.
"When you shoot 30 percent from the paint…if you look at the stats, three feet and in, we're third in attempts," Van Gundy said. "And last in field goal percentage. We barely finish over 50 percent of our shots, we've got a real problem."
Whether it was because the hot shooting Warriors can beat you from the perimeter or an indication of his long-term plan, Greg Monroe went to the bench in favor of Kyle Singler. But aside from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope catching fire, scoring 23 while going 12-of-22 from the field, he still hasn't found the right mix of players or the right scheme to turn this anemic offense around.
"If we had an answer, we'd change it," said Monroe of the team failing to convert inside. "It's really no other answer when you're talking about layups and shots in the paint. I'm probably the culprit of it all."
He and Drummond started off 0-for-9, with Drummond tipping in a basket for Golden State before getting a score for the Pistons. It was indicative of the Pistons' ineptitude as a whole offensively, shooting a season-low 28 percent from the field in the first half. Remarkably, they stayed close, taking an 18-10 lead before the Warriors woke up.
It's commonly referred to as the "getaway" game, but the Warriors were in no mood to let this Pistons team off the hook — and when Josh Smith is shooting two airballs on long jumpers, why should they?
Draymond Green (Michigan State) led with Warriors with 20 points and rebouns while Steph Curry had 16 points and 10 assists.
Green and Curry hit back-to-back 3-pointers near the end of the first half to give the sluggish Warriors a 10-point lead. The gap increased to 11 before the half, as Green hit a floater at the buzzer before sticking his tongue out to the crowd, which cheered him in his return home.
"We made a push and that helped us out a lot," Green said. "I don't think it's really rocket science — moving the ball, everybody sharing the wealth and with all of (our) weapons, that's big."
And it was Green who pushed the Warriors lead to 20 in the third with two of his five triples before the eight-minute mark, seemingly as Curry and backcourt mate Klay Thompson preferred to take the night off while letting Green have his day.
"Anytime you come home and play the way I did, that's great," he said. "My teammates put me in a good position, gave me wide open shots. It was up to me to knock them down."
Thompson scored 15 as he and Curry only took 20 shots and kept the Pistons from cutting the game to within double figures the second half.
Brandon Jennings returned from his thumb injury to score 22 points and add six assists, but Drummond turned into the invisible man, missing seven of his eight shots to finish with two points and seven rebounds.
Smith was one rebound short of a triple double, with 14 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, but missed 12 of 18 shots and left Green open for many of his back-breaking 3-pointers.
As the losses continue to mount, one has to wonder if the extra say-so in personnel is worth Van Gundy's misery, as no answers —and no wins — appear to be on the horizon.