As Stephen Curry and David Lee go, so do the Warriors.
Golden State’s two best players turned in typical performances Wednesday night, leading the team to a 105-97 win against Detroit before 19,596 people at Oracle Arena.
“Those guys are our leaders and they do a great job of carrying the load offensively, being the voice, leading this basketball team and setting a tone,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “There is a reason why they are two all-stars with an asterisk.”
Curry had an asterisk-free 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting, including 5-of-7 from deep. Lee finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds -- his NBA-leading 43rd double-double of the year. It also marked the ninth 20-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist game of the year for Lee, which ranks second in the NBA to LeBron James.
The Pistons (23-44) stayed within striking distance for most of the second half, but after cutting the deficit to 102-96 with 41 seconds left, they would get no closer.
In addition to the big nights from Curry and Lee, Jarrett Jack broke out of a recent slump, scoring 19 points off the bench on 7-of-11 shooting.
“Sixth Man of the Year in our book and a big reason why we’re sixth place in the West,” Curry said. “He expects a lot out of himself game-in, game-out and obviously you saw he wasn’t shooting the ball well the last couple games.
“He put in the time after last game on the court and it shows. He’s a professional and it shows what kind of standard he expects from himself every night.”
Aside from a sub-par shooting night from Klay Thompson (4-of-15), just about every Warrior filled the role they’re intended to play.
For rookie Harrison Barnes, that meant showcasing the athleticism that once contributed to him being the top college recruit in the country before his career at North Carolina. Barnes sparked instant momentum with three powerful dunks and finished with 13 points in just 19 minutes, matched up mostly against Kyle Singler.
“He was aggressive. The guys he’s on the floor with -- he’s going to get those type of looks because he was cutting,” Jackson said. “I thought that he made decisions early and was aggressive. I wish he could play against a Duke guy every night.”
Jackson made it clear before the game that despite the six-game losing streak Detroit carried into the game and its poor season in general, it was still a dangerous team.
“We have total respect for Detroit. They have some guys that can play well and make it a tough night,” Jackson said. “This isn’t coach talk either, that is real talk. When you talk about (Jose) Calderon and Greg Monroe and the shooters they have at the forward position with Will Bynum coming off the bench.”
“We don’t have the luxury like the Miami Heat or the OKC Thunder -- we can’t say ‘this is a win’. We know who we are. We are not that good where we can chalk up a win to the Detroit Pistons.”
In the early goings, it looked like the Warriors (37-29) might cruise for the second time in three nights, but after a good start, Detroit made it a game.
Golden State led by as many as 12 in the first quarter before the Pistons eventually went ahead, 44-43, on a jumper from Singler with 3:55 left in the first half. After shooting just 36.4 percent (8-of-22) in the first quarter, the Pistons were 12-of-21 (57.1 percent) in the second to make it a 50-50 game at the half.
Jonas Jerebko (11 points) and Bynum (10) both came off the bench to score in double figures before halftime for Detroit.
Rodney Stuckey, starting in place of the injured Brandon Knight, led Detroit with 22 points.
Andrew Bogut Injury Update
After Andrew Bogut exited with 4:46 left in the third quarter, he immediately had his lower torso wrapped by the Warriors training staff and heat applied to his lower back. However, it does not appear he further aggravated the back injury that kept him out for a six-game stretch spanning the end of February and start of March.
Bogut returned early in the fourth quarter and finished with seven points, ten rebounds and three blocks in 32 minutes.
Before the game, Jackson spoke to the progress the 7-footer had been making coming off both the back injury and an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for nearly the entire first three months of the season.
“I think the next step is going to be getting back to who he is on the block,” Jackson said. “He’s beginning to feel more and more comfortable at getting some of that explosiveness back. He’s certainly making progress and we are looking forward to the day when he is back at full strength.”
Draymond Green Sprains Ankle
Rookie forward Draymond Green did not return after spraining his left ankle early in the second quarter. His status moving forward is still to be determined.
Next up - Chicago
There are two ways to look at Friday’s game against Chicago (35-29) at Oracle Arena following the Bulls’ 121-79 loss at Sacramento on Wednesday. They can be looked at as a team with something to prove or a demoralized group ripe for the picking.
Golden State lost 103-87 in the first meeting between the teams in Chicago on Jan. 25.
Houston 111, Phoenix 81: All five Houston starters scored in double figures as the Rockets (35-30) remain 1.5 games back of Golden State in the No. 7 spot in the Western Conference standings.
Atlanta 96, Lakers 92: The Lakers’ (34-32) four game winning streak came to an end in Atlanta, but the bigger loss might be of superstar Kobe Bryant, who went down with a severely sprained left ankle. The team said x-rays on the ankle were negative, but he’s out “indefinitely,” according to the AP.
Oklahoma City 110, Utah 87: The Jazz (33-32) scored just 28 first-half points and remain a half-game back of the Lakers for the final playoff spot.