OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—One key to the Detroit Pistons’ improbable victory at Golden State was written in bold red letters on the locker room’s dry-erase board: “No small ball.”
Indeed, nothing was small about the Pistons’ stirring comeback from a 22-point deficit Wednesday night, while missing two injured starters in their fifth game in seven days, for a 111-104 victory.
Rasheed Wallace loomed large over the fourth quarter with 13 of his 22 points, and his inside play combined with the Pistons’ zone defense to gradually turn the Warriors’ small, speedy lineup into a disadvantage. Players on both sides agreed Detroit’s win could resonate through the season for both clubs.
“That was a great win, boy,” said Chauncey Billups, one of the injured spectators. “That was crazy.”
Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton also scored 22 points apiece for the Pistons, who roared from behind without Billups and Antonio McDyess, who both got hurt in a loss to Portland on Tuesday night.
“Unlike last night, our guys really kept their poise and were never frantic in any situation,” coach Flip Saunders said.
Though the Pistons fell behind early in a listless first half, Saunders still had a plan. While moving into a zone defense that broke the Warriors’ offensive rhythm, Detroit ran more of its offense through Wallace in the low post, setting up mismatches and defensive mistakes all over the court.
The veteran Pistons should have been dragging, but instead the well-rested Warriors couldn’t keep up.
“With playing last night and tonight, there was a lot of energy expended, but that’s all right,” said Wallace, who got within a few syllables of his first technical foul of the season during the rough first half. “Just executing, that’s all it was. Wasn’t a matter of taking over or anything.”
Yet the Pistons did take over in a loss that could demoralize the Warriors, the NBA’s only winless team at 0-6.
Baron Davis had 29 points and 10 assists, but refused to speak to reporters after failing to hold off his club’s embarrassing collapse. Even worse, the Warriors had the previous five days off before facing the exhausted Pistons.
“We had a tremendous amount of energy early on, (but) we got tired and slowed down in the second half,” said Al Harrington, who had 20 points and eight rebounds. “It’s disappointing. We haven’t won a game yet, so they all look the same. They showed they were a veteran team. … I didn’t think they were going to stay in it.”
The Warriors blew most of their huge early lead in the third quarter, confounded by Detroit’s zone. The Pistons took their first lead with a 14-2 run that included six straight points by Wallace, whose basket gave Detroit its first lead with 5:12 remaining.
Wallace, who had 18 points after halftime, followed up a 3-pointer from a step behind the line with two free throws, and Prince—who went 11-of-15 from the field—added four late points to seal it.
Andris Biedrins had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors, who have opened the season with four losses at home for the first time since 1998-99. Even the absence of suspended swingman Stephen Jackson can’t explain Golden State’s struggles at the start of a season that began with high expectations.
“I feel bad about this one,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said. “I should have been able to help the team more than I was able to in the second half against that zone. We didn’t attack it properly … and as a result, it cost us the game.”
Matt Barnes, who’s playing with a broken bone in his right ring finger, had 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Golden State went 15-for-43 in the second half, including 5-of-21 on a series of irresponsible 3-pointers out of zone frustration.
Flip Murray had 15 points and tied his career high with 12 assists in Billups’ point guard spot, while Jason Maxiell had 14 points and 14 rebounds at power forward. Billups injured his right hip and twisted his left knee in Portland, while McDyess reaggravated ligaments in his sprained left shoulder in the same game.
The Warriors scored a season-best 40 points in the first quarter, with Davis hitting four 3-pointers. Golden State led 59-37 late in the second quarter, but Detroit got within 13 by halftime before making a 21-10 run in the third.
Jackson sat out the sixth game of his seven-game suspension. After Golden State finishes its four-game homestand Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, Jackson will rejoin the club Sunday in Toronto.
C.C. Sabathia, the Cleveland Indians left-hander and a native of nearby Vallejo, celebrated his AL Cy Young award by watching the game from a seat under the basket with Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis, an Alameda native. The Warriors gave jerseys to both players, with “CY YOUNG” stitched on the back of Sabathia’s #07 jersey. … Warriors F Mickael Pietrus missed the game for personal reasons. … Golden State had another awful night at the free throw line, going 13-of-21 (61.9 percent).