Six in Sight

No longer playing Nellie Ball, Warriors challenge Pistons streak

The Pistons will have to go through an opponent fresh off a tough loss to get their sixth-straight home win at The Palace.
J. Dennis/Einstein
Tonight’s Pistons opponent, Golden State, comes to The Palace fresh off a home loss to the Orlando Magic. There might be 28 NBA teams that would be prone to complacency at that news. The 29th is the Pistons, who’ve been humbled twice by the shorthanded Magic already this season.

To extend their Palace winning streak to six games, the Pistons will have to deal with a Golden State team that owns the fifth-best record, 10-7, in the Western Conference, and until its Orlando loss led the Clippers for first place in the Pacific Division.

“They’ve won seven of their last 10,” Lawrence Frank said of the Warriors, no longer the run ’n’ stun bunch that made Nellie Ball famous yet still a team led by dangerous scorers. “(Stephen) Cury is playing at a very, very high level. David Lee gave us fits last year. As a group, as a team, a coach, you can never get complacent and comfortable.”

Under Mark Jackson, who dealt with the same lockout effects as a first-year coach as Lawrence Frank faced a season ago, Golden State is also attempting to become a team rooted in defense. While the Pistons have now risen to No. 3 in field-goal percentage defense at .428, the Warriors come in at No. 8 with a .434 mark.

They’ve done almost all of it without Andrew Bogut, acquired from Milwaukee at mid-season last year for Monta Ellis. He’s still dealing with the effects of ankle surgery. Helping fill the void has been rookie Festus Ezeli, one of three newcomers – lottery pick Harrison Barnes and Michigan State’s Draymond Green the others – who have cracked what has become an eight-man rotation.

Curry averages 18.9 points and 6.4 assists and Lee 17.4 points and 10.7 rebounds. Keeping Lee contained on the boards will be essential. The Warriors come in as the NBA’s fifth-rated rebounding team and the Pistons, for all of the gains they’ve made defensively, have been vulnerable to strong offensive rebounding teams.

“Curry and Lee, they’re a lethal pick-and-roll combination, so you’ve got to be very, very clean with your coverages,” Frank said. “You have to be solid both on and off the ball and then it’s the multiple efforts to rebound. We know we’ve got another tough task.”