Drummond dominates glass, but Warriors pull away to spoil spirited Pistons effort

Andre Drummond set a new career high with 27 rebounds to go with 22 points, but the Pistons surrendered an 18-2 run after leading 81-79 in the fourth quarter in losing at Golden State
Noah Graham (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

OAKLAND – Stan Van Gundy's wit is as sharp as any coach's, but he finds grim humor in an eight-game losing streak. The loss that made it eight – a 105-98 defeat at Golden State in which the Pistons led as late as early in the fourth quarter – included 27 rebounds for Andre Drummond, 17 on the offensive end.

And that, at least, provided Van Gundy an opening for a wisecrack.

"We missed a lot of shots, so his teammates helped him a lot – gave him a lot of opportunities to get rebounds."

Sometimes, you laugh to keep from crying. Somebody asked if he does any soul searching at times like these or what his remedy of choice might be.

"Stay away from tall buildings," he winced. "Soul searching, hell. I don't even want to go into what's on my mind. But you've got no choice. You keep working at it. Our guys are continuing to work. You can see it tonight. I thought our guys came in and battled their (backsides) off the entire game. When you see that out of your team, you keep fighting. I'd keep fighting, anyway, but you want to fight for them, too. Eight in a row is terrible and it's weighing on all of us, but there's nobody giving up or giving in here and I thought tonight was great evidence of that."

Van Gundy tried pushing every button within reach in an attempt to combat the ample firepower of Golden State, with a league-best 51-12 record that now stands at 28-2 at home. He juggled his started lineup, moving Caron Butler in for Tayshaun Prince mostly so he could bring Prince off the bench at power forward and enable the Pistons to employ liberal switching on the perimeter to limit open shots for a team led by the dynamic backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

For the most part, it worked. Curry was held to nine points on 4 of 15 shooting, though he contributed with 11 assists. Thompson did the bulk of his damage later, when it most mattered. He scored 10 of his game-high 27 in the final 10 minutes, including two big triples as part of an 18-2 Warriors run that rubbed out the last Detroit lead, 83-81.

Over a nine-possession stretch, the Pistons incurred one of their stagnant stretches that has plagued the offense in the transition to the latest iteration of Van Gundy's lineup in the wake of trade-deadline deals that added Prince and Reggie Jackson. Jackson, coming off a bumpy night in a loss to the Lakers, was much better. He finished with 14 points and nine assists and was primarily responsible for holding down Curry.

But his game, like his team's, took a downward turn over the last two-thirds of the fourth quarter. Coming back for Spencer Dinwiddie at 7:41, Jackson committed three of his four turnovers during the fourth quarter. The Pistons made just one basket – Jackson's runner – and missed four shots with four turnovers as the Warriors spurted. Eight of the 15 Pistons turnovers came in the fourth quarter.

"That was what turned it around," Van Gundy said. "We didn't take care of the ball. We made bad decisions. We played into crowds. We didn't move the basketball and that's what cost us the game. I thought our guys gave a great effort tonight, but we just didn't execute and take care of the ball down the stretch."

Nobody gave a greater effort than Drummond, whose 17 offensive rebounds was an all-time high against the Warriors and was one off the most in an NBA game since separate records for offensive and defensive boards began being kept in 1985-86. Both Dennis Rodman and Charles Oakley grabbed 18, while Jayson Williams also had 17 once. It was also the second time this season Drummond recorded back-to-back 20-rebound games. He has the most such games in the NBA, 16, since the start of the 2013-14 season, one more than DeAndre Jordan and 11 more than the player in third, Dwight Howard.

"I pride myself on going to get the ball and tonight was a good night for me," Drummond said. "The ball just happened to fall in my hands a lot more than usual. Just one of those nights."

"He worked really, really hard," Van Gundy said. "Twenty-seven rebounds in a game, 17 offensive rebounds – nothing to scoff at."

It was a new career high for Drummond, one more than the 26 he grabbed last season at Chicago. He also added 22 points, his last two coming as he slammed home his 27th rebound of the night with 11 seconds to play.

"We did a good job buckling down in the second half, really making them uncomfortable," Drummond said. "We made a good run, tied it up for a little bit, but they made some tough shots down the stretch and they came out with a win."

And the Pistons left town for stop No. 3 on this West Coast trip which sees them play four games in five nights, the next one in Portland. Hope they don't have any tall buildings there.

FAST BREAKDOWN

Three quick observations from Wednesday night's 105-98 loss to the Golden State Warriors

SLAM DUNK – Against the team with both the NBA's best home record (27-2) and greatest point differential at home (plus-15.3), the Pistons – playing a back to back after losing to the struggling Los Angeles Lakers 24 hours earlier – got to nearly the midway point of the fourth quarter leading 81-79. But a few missed shots and a few turnovers and the Warriors – befitting a team with a 51-12 record – pounced, going on an 18-2 run and playing it out for a 105-98 win over the Pistons, who lost their eighth straight despite playing significantly better. Andre Drummond put on a rebounding exhibition that only old-timers who remember Nate Thurmond could remember seeing in any one of the places the Warriors have called home since moving from Philadelphia in 1962. Drummond grabbed 13 boards in the third quarter alone and finished with 27, bettering his previous career high by one. He also scored 22 points. Greg Monroe added 20 points and nine rebounds for the Pistons and Reggie Jackson (14 points, nine assists) dueled MVP candidate Steph Curry to an essential draw, but Klay Thompson got hot in the second half, when he scored 20 of his game-high 27 points for Golden State.

FREE THROW – Stan Van Gundy shook up his starting lineup and his rotation at Golden State in an attempt to do something to put a charge into a stagnant offense. Caron Butler started for Tayshaun Prince, with Prince assuming Anthony Tolliver's role as first forward off the bench – replacing Andre Drummond giving the Pistons the four-out, one-in look Van Gundy likes to use for about two-thirds of games. Then Cartier Martin took Prince's place in the Prince-Butler small forward tandem. Tolliver came off the bench, usurping the role that Shawne Williams had held. Van Gundy largely stuck with the same rotation in the second half to mixed results. Martin played 16 minutes and didn't score, missing both of his shots. Prince played well off the bench with eight points and four boards in 27 minutes. Tolliver didn't play in the second half.

3-POINTER – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came out of his 3-point shooting doldrums, hitting 4 of 10, in Tuesday's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, before going 1 of 5 against Golden State. And while becoming a more consistent game-in, game-out 3-point threat will be a critical step in Caldwell-Pope reaching his highest level, there's a lot more to his game. He showed his defensive potential and breathtaking speed with a couple of dazzling first-half steals that were converted into easy points – the first when Caldwell-Pope fed Jodie Meeks for a layup, the second when he took it end to end himself for a dunk – and added another in the second half that ended in Cartier Martin's layup being blocked. He finished with 13 points, three assists and two rebounds. Caldwell-Pope has drawn as much or more praise from Stan Van Gundy this season as any Pistons, Van Gundy especially valuing his motor, toughness and earnestness. There are rough edges to his game, still – for one example, better ballhandling would allow him greater opportunities to use his explosive speed off the dribble to get to the rim more frequently – but Van Gundy rests easy knowing that Caldwell-Pope's work ethic will help smooth those edges.

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