Rod Beard breaks down the Pistons' loss to the Warriors. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Detroit — It was a long shot from the beginning. The Pistons had beaten the Golden State Warriors in their first meeting this season and they were going for the season sweep.
No Eastern Conference team has won both games against the Warriors during their championship era. Charlotte was the last team to complete the feat, in 2013-14.
The streak continues.
And the Pistons’ skid continues.
The Warriors tallied 15 blocked shots and shut down Reggie Jackson on his potential tying drive, taking a 102-98 victory on Friday night at Little Caesars Arena, before a frenzied sellout crowd, their first since opening night.
Avery Bradley had 25 points, Jackson 16 and Andre Drummond eight points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons (14-11), who lost their fifth straight. The schedule doesn’t let up, with the Celtics coming in Sunday touting the league’s best record at 22-4.
Playing without Steph Curry, who is out for two weeks because of a sprained left ankle, the Warriors (21-6) finished their road trip at 6-0 and relied on Kevin Durant, who had 36 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks, and Klay Thompson with 21 points.
Two plays seemed to swing things for the Pistons, who didn’t get a favorable call on either. After cutting a 10-point deficit to start the fourth quarter down to two, Anthony Tolliver was called for a foul on Durant. A replay showed that Tolliver landed on Durant’s foot and under the new rules, the referees reviewed the play to see if it was a flagrant foul.
Andre Drummond talks about the Pistons' loss to the Warriors. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Durant made all three free throws and the lead got to five.
Coach Stan Van Gundy said he didn’t get an explanation of the foul or why the officials reviewed whether it was a flagrant foul.
“Well, because it was Kevin Durant who went down — and they said it was definitely a foul. I don’t agree, having looked at it, but it’s Kevin Durant,” Van Gundy said. “It was three points; I don’t know if it was more of a momentum swing than anything else.”
The other play was in the final 10 seconds, with Jackson trying to tie the score at 100. He got into the lane, drew three defenders and put up an off-balance shot, but didn’t get a foul call. The Warriors got the rebound and Thompson made two free throws, for the final points of the game.
It wasn’t an ideal shot, but Van Gundy saw the difficulty in trying to second-guess Jackson’s decision to take the shot.
“He drove it hard and a lot of people came to the ball. We had two guys open on the weak side — that’s what I saw,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a lot easier to sit and watch it on tape and see it than when you’re the guy driving to the basket.”
It’s become a familiar script in the past four games: get within two possessions in the final minutes, only to fall short. It happened again.
The Warriors had their largest lead, 81-69, at the 10:50 mark after a jumper by Thompson. The Pistons answered with a 13-3 run, including three baskets by Boban Marjanovic, who finished with 10 points and four rebounds, and a 3-pointer by Langston Galloway.
That trimmed the lead to 84-82, just before the controversial call on Tolliver and Durant’s free throws.
Stan Van Gundy discusses the Pistons' loss to the Warrriors. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Luke Kennard hit a floater, but the Warriors had another 7-1 spurt, with a jumper and 3-pointer by Thompson and a basket by Durant.
The Pistons had one last run, when Bradley scored on a jumper and Jackson added a floater to get within five, but Durant got a steal and dunk to push the lead to 96-89, with 1:29 left.
After Bradley made two free throws, the Pistons got a steal and he hit a 3-pointer, to get back within two just before Jackson’s last drive.
“I just passed by (Jackson) and that’s not the reason why we lost the game,” Bradley said. “We had a lot of mistakes throughout the game and we were fortunate enough to make some shots at the end of the game to give ourselves a chance.
“We have to play better defense on a consistent basis throughout the game if we want to not put ourselves in those situations.”
■The Warriors had 15 blocks, including six by Draymond Green and five by Durant. They swarmed the paint all game and didn’t let the Pistons drive and get many uncontested shots in the middle.
“If you get five or six blocked, that’s just great defense; if you get 16 blocked against Milwaukee and 15 tonight, that’s bad decision making,” Van Gundy said. “It’s not that anybody’s trying to make bad decisions, but we’ve just got to make better decisions.”
■As Van Gundy hinted Friday afternoon, Boban Marjanovic got more playing time, sliding into the backup role behind Drummond in the rotation. He had two points and two rebounds in just under eight minutes in the second quarter, getting plenty of touches on the offensive end, but only going 1-of-4 from the field.
■Even without Curry, who has a sprained left ankle and will miss about two weeks, the Warriors offense is formidable. “They have to go-to guys like Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson a little more,” Van Gundy joked.
Durant was the predictable focal point, going 10-for-19 for 27 points through three quarters.
■Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, Van Gundy kept Tolliver in the game with the starters, instead of Stanley Johnson. Tolliver was the primary defender on Durant — and he did about as well as one could expect, mainly keeping Durant on the perimeter and holding him to jump-shot attempts.