OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Jason Richardson tested his legs and thoroughly enjoyed the result: A spectacular one-handed jam that showed everyone on the Golden State Warriors their star player is finally nearing full strength.
Richardson had 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists playing on a tender knee, and the Warriors beat the worn-down Detroit Pistons for the first time in three years with a 111-79 victory Saturday night.
Not a bad outing for Richardson’s confidence coming off knee surgery.
“It’s a huge mental boost,” he said. “I probably couldn’t have done it a couple of games ago. I’m still a couple of steps behind. I don’t have the explosiveness.”
Baron Davis had 20 points, nine assists and five steals as the Warriors ended a five-game losing streak to the Pistons with their first win in the series since an overtime victory on Nov. 12, 2003, in Oakland.
Detroit has still won 16 of the last 21 meetings and owns an 11-game winning streak at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons’ 79 points were their fewest against Golden State since they also scored 79 on Feb. 4, 1964.
Cell phone to his ear, Warriors team president Robert Rowell reached out and knocked fists with Don Nelson as the coach made his way through the hallway after this one—which certainly had Golden State’s playoff-starved believing this might just be the one after 12 straight years without a postseason trip.
“Well, I did not see that coming, but I’ll sure take it,” Nelson said of the rout. “I think it’s a coach’s nightmare to have a 20-point lead at the quarter. Only one thing can happen and that’s to lose it of course. We needed it.”
Lindsey Hunter had 14 points for Detroit, which finished a four-game West Coast road trip with a sloppy, uninspired performance against a team it had become accustomed to beating. Tayshaun Prince was held to 11 a night after scoring 31 to match his career high.
Chauncey Billups also had only 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting after he had 21 a night earlier in a win over the Lakers in Los Angeles—Detroit’s lone victory on this road swing that featured three double-digit defeats. The Pistons played four games in six nights.
Richardson, who was questionable until just before game time because of fluid buildup and stiffness in his surgically repaired left knee, returned to the lineup after sitting out Golden State’s 121-116 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Thursday night. He had arguably his best dunk so far this season on an alley-oop from Troy Murphy in the second quarter, and made two of Golden State’s 12 3-pointers.
“He kind of threw it a little high and I knew I had to get it or Coach was going to yell at me,” Richardson said.
Added Nelson: “He hasn’t been able to do that coming off one leg. That looked like the old J.R.”
Davis made his first three shots for eight points as Golden State hit seven of its first eight field-goal tries to build a 17-4 first-quarter lead. The Warriors’ perimeter players took advantage of the Pistons playing again without Richard Hamilton, who missed his second straight game with a hyperextended right elbow.
Jason Maxiell also had 11 points for Detroit, which was outrebounded 42-38 and couldn’t overcome all of its missed opportunities early. The Pistons trailed by as many as 25 points in the first half and 57-32 at halftime.
“You’re concerned no matter when it is (in a season) because you want to get consistency, and we’ve got to get consistency,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “We came out kind of flat and they were hitting some shots in the beginning and pretty much just beat up on us.”
Flip Murray, playing in place of Hamilton, was held to six points for the Pistons after three straight games in double figures. Detroit didn’t get to the free throw line for the first time until 1:41 before halftime because it couldn’t consistently work the ball inside.
Mickael Pietrus drove through the middle of the key for a pretty two-handed jam on Golden State’s first possession of the second quarter and finished with 13 points. Andris Biedrins also added 13 and Monta Ellis scored 12 and made four assists as the Warriors had their second win of the week against a team that had 60 or more victories last season.
Fans chanted “We want Foyle!” in the waning minutes for center Adonal Foyle, who has a greatly diminished role in Nelson’s system. He never got in the game, the only player for Golden State who didn’t.
Warriors G Dajuan Wagner made his first appearance in an NBA game since Dec. 18, 2004, and scored four points. … Hamilton averaged 25 points in the two meetings with the Warriors last season. … Golden State’s current seven-game homestand matches the longest in team history without playing at a neutral site. … The teams’ athletic trainers, brothers Mike (Detroit) and Tom Abdenour, had their first reunion of the season. … A moment of silence was held before the national anthem for Veteran’s Day.