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.