There are no moral victories — not for a team scuffling in its past 10, trying to make the playoffs, and, maybe more importantly, trying to avoid the eighth seed and a matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks if they are lucky enough to even get into the playoffs.
So there wasn’t much good news wrapped in Detroit’s 121-114 loss to the Warriors at a raucous Oracle Arena on Sunday night.
The thing is, as I watched the game I struggled to think of things I’d wished the Pistons would do differently. Detroit played far from of a perfect game, but the things they were trying to do made sense. The shots they were hoping Golden State would take made sense. The Warriors just kept making ... well, everything.
Golden State shot 62 percent overall and 52 percent on 3-point attempts. They made just about every mid-range shot Detroit forced them to take. It turns out Dwane Casey’s shot spectrum is not Steve Kerr’s shot spectrum. The Warriors are the NBA’s No. 1 mid-range offense in the NBA, and they killed Detroit all night with clean, open looks as Detroit scrambled to chase people off the 3-point line and protect the rim.
Even when Detroit defenders were right in a Warriors players face, they were still canning 3s with ease.
The biggest thing you could say about Detroit’s performance is that Reggie Jackson had an off game and never seemed comfortable (seven points on nine shots), and that Blake Griffin was pretty awful on the defensive end and could never get untracked against Draymond Green on offense. Griffin ended up with a team-high 24 points thanks to bullying his way to the free-throw line where he went 9-of-10. Andre Drummond had a relatively pedestrian 12 points and 11 rebounds and never was able to put his stamp on the game.
The brightest spots for the Pistons were the bench unit of Luke Kennard, Thon Maker and Langston Galloway. the trio combined to go 17-of-26 with seven 3s. Kennard led the group with 20 points while Maker and Galloway had 12 apiece.
A desperate Casey even played an ultra-big lineup of Maker, Griffin and Drummond at the same time in the second half, but the results were largely the same as the rest of the night — decent offense but not enough stops on defense.
The Warriors were led by their back court of Steph Curry (26 points), Klay Thompson (24) and Kevin Durant (14 points, 11 assists).
The Pistons will get a day off and then face Denver Nuggets looking to salvage a second win on this 5-game road trip.
The loss puts Detroit one game up on Miami, who currently sits eighth in the Eastern Conference. Detroit is also two games up on Orlando. That might seem too close for comfort, but Orlando is about to go on a little gauntlet of its own with the Sixers at home before a four-game road trip that sees them facing the Heat, Pistons, Pacers and Raptors.