Caldwell-Pope hurts shoulder as Warriors crush Pistons
Oakland, Calif. — The losses keep piling up. And so do the injuries.
The Pistons' five-game western trip is turning out to be as costly on the injury front as it is in the loss column.
The Pistons lost another of their starters, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter and didn’t return to the game. Without him, the Pistons stayed with the Golden State Warriors for the first half, but wilted defensively in the third quarter, in a 127-107 loss on Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
The Pistons (18-23) are 1-2 on the trip, with a back-to-back game coming Friday night at Utah, and finish it Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
That is, if they can keep the rest of the roster healthy.
Caldwell-Pope played just four minutes in the first quarter before jamming his left shoulder coming off a screen. It’s the same shoulder he injured on Jan. 5 against Charlotte running into a screen.
X-rays on the shoulder were negative but Caldwell-Pope didn’t return and will have an MRI Friday in Salt Lake City. The Pistons already are without Jon Leuer, who suffered a knee bruise in the opening game of the trip against the Portland Trail Blazers.
“It is what it is. That’s the name of the game in the NBA. We’ve had some downs,” said Tobias Harris, who had 18 points. “Obviously, we have a couple of guys out right now, but we expect that whoever’s next in their spot coming in just has to be ready to go.”
Without Caldwell-Pope, the Pistons stayed with the Warriors (34-6) for a half, behind the rest of the starting group. Marcus Morris had 21 points, Reggie Jackson 14 and Andre Drummond 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Things fell apart in the decisive third quarter, when the Warriors outscored the Pistons, 41-19.
After Kevin Durant (25 points) hit an opening jumper, Klay Thompson (23 points) sizzled in the first three minutes of the period, scoring six straight Warriors points, including a 3-pointer, a reverse lay-in and a free throw. That made it a 68-62 advantage but Jackson answered with a 3-pointer.
The Warriors ran off the next 10 points, with two free throws by Draymond Green, back-to-back 3-pointers by Thompson and Durant and a pair of free throws by Stephen Curry (24 points), pushing the lead to 78-65.
The deficit remained in double digits for the rest of the game.
“We didn’t play well enough. We made too many defensive game-plan mistakes where we weren’t doing what we were supposed to be doing and we didn’t get back in transition and get matched up and we turned the ball over,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “When you don’t do those three things against a team like that, you have no chance.”
The barrage continued, following a 3-pointer by Stanley Johnson (eight points). Thompson hit another 3-pointer and after a hook by Drummond, Andre Iguodala added a 3-pointer and Durant a jumper.
The Warriors finished at 52 percent on 3-pointers (15-of-29), while the Pistons struggled without Caldwell-Pope, going 6-of-28 (21 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Pistons started hot, hitting 8 of their first 12 field goals to take a 17-15 lead. Thompson answered with a 3-pointer to restore the Warriors' lead. The Warriors got back-to-back baskets by Curry — a step-back jumper and a 3-pointer — to pull ahead, 25-22.
Near the end of the quarter, the Pistons surged ahead after two made free throws by Drummond and a basket by Boban Marjanovic (13 points, 11 rebounds) with 1:07 left. The Warriors finished with a flurry, as Curry hit a jumper and Ian Clark hit consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead to 37-30 at the end of the first quarter.
The Pistons moved ahead with a strong bench effort, as Marjanovic had a three-point play, which ignited a 14-4 run, turning a nine-point deficit into a 44-43 lead. They had a 52-51 lead after two free throws and a lay-in by Jackson but Curry finished the half with a 3-point play to give the Warriors a 60-58 halftime lead.
“The third quarter was a lot of turnovers and miscues. Defensively early, it’s hard to say you did good with (allowing) 37 in the first quarter,” Jackson said. “We felt like we did a good job with 31 and had too many turnovers. Held them to 23 (in the second quarter) and we thought we competed and played them tough.”