Tuesday, February 25, 2014
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Second-half defense powers Warriors past Pistons

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[February 25, 2014]  AUBURN HILLS, Mich.  Jermaine O'Neal sees big things for the Golden State Warriors every time they win games the hard way.

The Warriors held the Detroit Pistons to 13 fourth-quarter points and opened a six-game road trip with a 104-96 win Monday night at The Palace.

"These are the ones I prefer for us to win now," said O'Neal, an 18-year veteran power forward. "It teaches us how to win when it's not going well for us, when we're not making all the 3s and the flashy plays. We don't have a whole lot of playoff experience on this roster, so they don't necessarily know what it takes to win it all. Games like this are teaching us how to win it all."

Point guard Stephen Curry had 19 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, and shooting guard Klay Thompson also scored 19 points to help Golden State (35-22) earn its fourth consecutive win. O'Neal contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve guard Jordan Crawford chipped in 15 points, his best offensive night since he was acquired from the Boston Celtics in mid-January.

The Warriors allowed 62 first-half points but held the Pistons to 29.8 percent shooting after the break. Golden State defeated Detroit for the sixth straight meeting by holding the Pistons to two points in the final four minutes.


"We gave up (62) points in the first half, and that's a recipe for disaster against any team on the road," Curry said. "To hold them to 34 in the second half, that's big. It allows your offense to get back in the game."

Golden State coach Mark Jackson called a timeout late in the third quarter with the Pistons leading by three and demanded defensive commitment from his team.

"He told us what he needed to tell us," O'Neal said. "I can't repeat what he said, but it was very intense. It got our attention, and from that point on, we made it very tough on those guys to score."

Power forward Greg Monroe had 23 points and eight rebounds for Detroit (23-34), which lost for the fifth time in six games. Forward Josh Smith recorded his fourth double-double in six games with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and swingman Kyle Singler added 18 points.

The Pistons' offense petered out in the closing minutes as they missed their last eight shot attempts.

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"We took it to the finish line, we just didn't cross it," Detroit interim coach John Loyer said. "We have to get to the point where we can finish them. We didn't score down the stretch."

Loyer was encouraged by his team's overall play despite the late sag.

"Our effort from the opening tip was tremendous," he said. "I thought we sustained it, but they're such a powerful team. I look up one second, we're up three. Next minute, maybe you're down nine or down six. They can score so easily and so quickly, even when you play good defense."

Warriors power forward David Lee missed his second consecutive game because of a stomach flu. Center Andrew Bogut returned after missing seven straight games with a left shoulder injury, but he was limited to four points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes before fouling out.

Guard Steve Blake's 3-pointer off a Curry feed gave Golden State a 92-90 edge with 6:28 remaining. The Warriors maintained the lead the rest of the way.

Curry's pull-up jumper made it 97-94 with 3:09 left. Thompson's mid-range jumper with 2:26 left stretched the Warriors' lead to five. Golden State extended its lead to eight before the Pistons belatedly answered in the final minute.

NOTES: The last time the Warriors won five or more consecutive games over the Pistons was a seven-game streak in 1975-76. ... Michigan State coach Tom Izzo sat courtside to watch his former player, Golden State PF Draymond Green, who scored six points. ... The Pistons have allowed opponents to score 110 or more points on 18 occasions this season. During the six consecutive seasons from 2002-03 to 2007-08 when they reached the Eastern Conference finals, they allowed 110 or more points just 14 times. ... Pistons PF Greg Monroe has an Eastern Conference-best 89 double-doubles since the 2011-12 season. Chicago C Joakim Noah is second on the list with 84. ... The Warriors won for the 11th time in their past 14 road games. "The thing that gives us confidence is we're a defensive-minded team," coach Mark Jackson said. "We understand that we are more than capable of going on the road and winning ballgames."

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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