Pistons make it 5 straight as Griffin, bench push them past Golden State
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Three quick observations from Saturday night’s 111-102 win over the Golden State Warriors at Little Caesars Arena
WHAT A WIN – That was a pretty good way to start what appears to be the roughest three-week stretch the Pistons will endure all season, knocking off the reigning NBA champions to rival the win at Toronto in Dwane Casey’s return as the season’s best.
Over 11 games, the Pistons play eight teams that are no worse than even money to be in the playoffs, so grabbing any win over that span will be important. Blake Griffin scored 26 points and provided a sense of calm down the stretch, exhorting the crowd after a big 3-pointer with 2:31 to play pushed the lead to 13. Andre Drummond had 16 points and 19 rebounds and Reggie Jackson scored 17 points and made some big shots, including what appeared to be the clincher with 45 seconds to go. The Pistons took a 14-point lead early in the third quarter before Golden State – held to 46 first-half points – got its offense rolling and pulled within two. The Pistons bumped the lead back to seven at the third-quarter buzzer on Stanley Johnson’s triple and Golden State never got any closer. Golden State came in with a five-game road losing streak but welcomed back Steph Curry, who’d missed the previous 11 games with a groin injury. Curry scored 27 after going 2 of 9 in the first half, when Golden State hit just 1 of 10 3-point shots. Kevin Durant had 28 and Klay Thompson 21.
BENCH, AGAIN – It was again Dwane Casey’s bench that put the Pistons in position to win. It isn’t often you’d say a game was won in the early minutes of the second quarter, but Casey was able to keep Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin on the bench for the first seven-plus minutes of the second quarter. When they returned, the bench had outscored Golden State 21-13 and the Pistons never let go of the lead. Again to start the fourth quarter the Pistons were able to extend their lead with the bench on the floor, even if by only a point. When Griffin and Drummond came back with 7:22 to play, the Pistons led by eight points. Stanley Johnson scored 19 points, 13 in the first half, and his triple with 3:46 to play gave the Pistons a 14-point lead. Langston Galloway scored eight of his 11 in the first half. Casey’s bench outscored Golden State’s 42-13.
KENNARD RETURNS, SORT OF – Luke Kennard returned after scoring 27 points for the Grand Rapids Drive in a G League tune-up on Friday night, but Dwane Casey – after saying before the game that Kennard would be available to play – opted not to use him, making Kennard inactive. Kennard has not yet gone through a Pistons practice after suffering a separated shoulder on Oct. 25 and Casey indicated before the game that even if Kennard had been in uniform it was unlikely he’d play over Langston Galloway, Glenn Robinson III or Stanley Johnson. Because the Pistons played a back to back on the weekend and host Oklahoma City on Monday night, the first opportunity Kennard will have to go through a practice comes Tuesday before the Pistons travel to Milwaukee for a Wednesday date with the Bucks.