Ex-Wolverine Jordan Poole scores 32 points in Warriors' 105-102 win over Pistons
Detroit — The headliner wasn’t able to play, but the understudy was more than ready to play the lead role.
Steph Curry didn’t play in the second game of a back-to-back, but even without the frontrunner for league MVP, the Golden State Warriors had enough scoring. Third-year guard Jordan Poole (Michigan) picked up the slack and the Warriors still were lethal from 3-point range.
The Pistons kept it close in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors held on in the final seconds for a 105-102 victory before a sellout crowd at Little Caesars Arena on Friday night.
Frank Jackson had a season-high 27 points, Jerami Grant added 19 points and Cade Cunningham 19 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Pistons (4-11), who next face the Lakers on Sunday.
The Pistons had two chances to tie it on the final possession in the waning seconds, but Grant and Jackson missed 3-pointers and the Warriors were able to hold on for the win.
"We competed and we fought to come back,” coach Dwane Casey said. “You're heartbroken and the guys fought to come back and put themselves in position to win.”
Curry, who had 40 points — including nine 3-pointers — on Thursday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, had a suitable replacement in Poole, who went 4-of-8 beyond the arc and finished with 32 points and seven rebounds.
The shorthanded Warriors also were without Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Otto Porter, but they still shot 49% from the field and 35% from beyond the arc.
"It was a tough one. We battled and there were some things we did well,” Jackson said. “It was a fight, but we came up short at the end.”
Of bigger importance to the Pistons is the health of center Isaiah Stewart, who sustained an ankle injury in the third quarter and had to be helped off the court to the locker room.
Stewart was ruled out of the game, but he later returned to the bench and his return was questionable, though he didn’t play the rest of the game.
The Warriors led by five at halftime and had their largest lead, 86-70, after finishing a 9-2 run. Chris Chiozza scored all six of his points during the spurt, with a pair of 3-pointers, and Poole added two free throws and Wiggins one free throw.
It looked like the Warriors would roll to an easy win, but the Pistons bounced back from an anemic third quarter with a burst in the opening minutes of the final period.
Jackson started the fourth with a lay-in and Hamidou Diallo added a pair of free throws. After a 3-pointer by Nemanja Bjelica (14 points and eight rebounds), Trey Lyles hit a jumper and made one of two free throws.
"I liked the way we continued to compete after a tough third quarter, and we kept fighting,” Casey said.
The Pistons were within 91-85 with 8:33 remaining in the fourth quarter after a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws by Jackson, but the Warriors (14-2) rallied with a lay-in by Bjelica and two free throws and a stepback jumper from Wiggins (27 points and five rebounds).
Cunningham ended the run with a fadeaway jumper, but Poole followed with a drive and a highlight-reel reverse to extend the lead back to 14 after the 10-2 run.
The Pistons kept chipping away at the lead in the final minutes. Grant scored on a lay-in and Jackson followed with a drive to get to within 10. Cory Joseph (eight points and five assists) converted a three-point play and Poole answered with a floater, but the Pistons scored the next six free throws, including four by Cunningham and two by Jackson.
That pulled the Pistons within 104-100 with 1:43 remaining. Wiggins made one of two free throws to push the lead to five, and Saddiq Bey looked to have a basket to pull within three points, but it was waved off because of basket interference.
Grant was fouled and made two free throws with 33.3 seconds left to get within 105-102, and Cunningham had a big block to give the Pistons possession with a chance to tie it with a 3-pointer.
The Pistons got two looks in the final seconds — one from Grant and another good one from Jackson — but they both rolled out and the Warriors held on for the victory.