Warriors flip switch at half, pull away from Pistons

If the 2015-16 Warriors’ regular season dominance was a constant blinding light, this year’s team is like a light switch constantly in use.

Off and on it goes.

The Warriors (34-5) turned on the juice just enough times in a 127-107 win over the Detroit Pistons (18-23) Thursday. Their scoring difference by quarter went like this: plus-7, minus-5, plus-22, minus-4.

Light, dark, light, dark.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

Stephen Curry started off the game continuing his aggressive play offensively scoring 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting — but also had six turnovers, almost all coming on careless passes. He finished with 24 points, six assists, five steals and eight turnovers; a true mixed bag of success.

The man usually tasked with stopping Curry, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, got demolished on a screen from Zaza Pachulia and left the game just three minutes in. The Pistons best defender wouldn’t return to the game, though his X-rays were negative.

Kevin Durant (25) and Klay Thompson (23) joined Curry as the trio scored over 20 in the same game for the 13th time this season.

Thompson returned to the court after missing the previous game to rest and recover from being sick, something he’s not used to:

“It felt great to be out there, it was an unfamiliar feeling a couple nights ago. I felt great and I think we looked really good tonight.”

The trio along with Ian Clark paced a potent 3-point attack for the Warriors, as they shot over 50 percent from the 3-point line.

And that’s something Steve Kerr anticipates almost every game:

“I sort of expect it. That’s kind of who we are as a team, we spread you out and shoot a lot of threes. To be honest I don’t think we shot it that well the first half of the season. Tonight was one of our better nights from three for the year and I expect us to shoot better from three in the second half of the season.”

Pachulia had another tough center matchup — his fourth in a row, after Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins, and Hassan Whiteside  — in Andre Drummond. They all combined to average a 20-point, 11 rebound double-double against Golden State and Pachulia, which is damn ugly if you’re rooting for the Warriors.

Yes, Detroit’s bigs seemingly beasted the second leading All-Star vote getter, but they also averaged 4.2 turnovers in that same span, including six tonight from Drummond, which shows the adjustment the team made defensively.

Draymond Green only attempted four shots and hit none of them, but as usual made an impact with nine rebounds, 13 assists and two blocks.

And when all that happens, the Warriors don’t look like a mortal basketball team. But their problem this season has been an inability or disinterest in putting it together for a whole 48 minutes.

Last year, the Warriors looked emotionally taxed during the NBA Finals when they couldn’t finish off the Cavs. It’s something they are determined not to repeat.

And if they need to not go all-in during these random games in the middle of the season, then that’s what they’ll do.

Durant said that it’s all about working through the kinks now:

“You’ve got to be patient with us, I know a lot of talk around us is that we have this super team… But it’s an adjustment, this is a team sport. Everything has to be working and moving as one, so it’s going to take some time and we are still learning each other.”

The only downside is what happens if they can’t flip the switch back on. It was evident in both the Memphis and Cleveland games that when they went to turn it back on, it wasn’t there for them.

And again, not the worst thing in the world for it to happen in January — but it could doom the Warriors if it happens again in June.

Up Next

The rematch everyone has been waiting for since Christmas day is coming to Oracle. The Warriors take on the defending champion Cavaliers Monday and look to avenge not only their Finals loss but also their holiday matchup when they blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Cavs come in amidst a struggling stretch as they have gone just 5-4 since their win against the Warriors.

Notes

The Warriors have lost just nine regular season games against the Eastern Conference since the 2014-15 season. They are 11-1 against them this season with their lone loss coming against the Cavs. … Detroit finished the game just 6-of-28 from three, which continues the Warriors tough 3-point defense. They lead the league in opponent 3-point percentage, holding the opposition to just 32.6 percent per game. … Andre Iguodala continued his strong play recently as he put up eight points, two assists and no turnovers. Iguodala now has zero turnovers in the last five games and has dished out 17 assists in that time. He continues to lead the league in assist to turnover ratio at an astronomical 5:1.


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.