AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Before the game, Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said Golden State simply has more margin for error than other teams, meaning the Warriors can win even when they don’t play their best.
Not on this night against Van Gundy’s Pistons.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope held his own against Stephen Curry for most of the night, scoring 20 points as the Pistons handed the Warriors their second loss in three games, 113-95 on Saturday.
Much of the pregame talk centred around how well Caldwell-Pope might be able to defend Curry. The Golden State star scored 38 points, but Caldwell-Pope gave the Pistons a boost offensively.
"I think we know that we’re capable of beating anybody," Van Gundy said afterward. "The difference between the Golden States, San Antonios, Clevelands of the world and where we are right now, is you’ve got to do it night after night after night after night after night, and that’s our challenge."
The Warriors (37-4) reached the midway point of the regular season a win short of the best 41-game start in NBA history. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers and 1995-96 Chicago Bulls started 38-3.
Detroit retired Ben Wallace’s No. 3 jersey at halftime, and by that time the Pistons led 65-49 on a raucous night at the Palace.
Curry scored 16 points in the third, but the Warriors still trailed by 11 at the end of period. Then Detroit started the fourth with a 16-2 run to lead 101-76.
"We’ve been saying it all year, but no matter where we go, teams are going to give us their best shot," Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said. "It was a big night with the crowd, it was a sellout, retiring Ben Wallace’s jersey. They were coming after us. … In this league if you’re not ready to fight back, you’re going to get blown out."
Golden State was whistled for three technical fouls. Curry and Draymond Green were hit with technicals late in the second quarter, and Walton was called for one in the fourth after a dunk by Detroit’s Andre Drummond. The technical free throw by Stanley Johnson made it 94-74.
Drummond had 14 points and 21 rebounds, and Reggie Jackson scored 20 points for Detroit. The Pistons had six players in double figures, while Golden State had only three. Klay Thompson scored 24 points for the Warriors.
Golden State’s Andre Iguodala went scoreless, and Green had five points on 1-of-7 shooting.
The Pistons took an early 10-point lead, and the crowd gave Wallace a standing ovation during a timeout. Golden State rallied to take a 30-27 lead after the first quarter, but backup centre Aron Baynes gave Detroit a lift.
Baynes scored 12 points in the second quarter, making all six of his shot attempts.
Caldwell-Pope outscored Curry 16-15 in the first half.
In addition to Wallace, several other former Pistons were in attendance, including Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. Larry Brown, who coached Detroit to the 2004 NBA title, was also part of the festivities. It was the type of celebratory night with a big crowd that the Pistons have rarely enjoyed over the last few years.
"The energy was in the building," Caldwell-Pope said. "We felt it tonight. We just fed off it."
In each of their first three defeats of the season, the Warriors were missing key players like Harrison Barnes, Green and even Curry. On Saturday, Golden State had all of its top scorers, and Green thought they could make a run even when they were down heading into the fourth quarter.
"I thought we could, but we still didn’t get stops and scores," he said. "We just didn’t get stops and we fouled them a lot."
Warriors: Barnes was in the starting lineup for the first time since returning nearly two weeks ago from a sprained left ankle. He scored five points on 2-of-11 shooting. … Golden State shot 37 per cent from the field, its worst showing of the season. The Warriors shot 39 per cent at Boston on Dec. 11.
Pistons: Brandon Jennings left with a jammed left ankle.
Warriors: Play at Cleveland on Monday night in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals.
Pistons: Host Chicago on Monday.