Warriors played with fire during winning streak, finally got burned by Pistons

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Dubs played with fire during win streak, finally got burned originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors fully earned the 122-119 loss to the Detroit Pistons that ended their five-game win streak Wednesday night. They invited it from the start, with atrocious first-quarter defense, until Jordan Poole’s ghastly turnover in the final seconds.

As much as there is to rummage through, the upshot is that the Warriors were due to pay a price for their recent habits.

Shorthanded as they have been, the Warriors were playing with fire while winning and always got away with it. This time, they got scorched.

“I just told the guys how proud I am of them for holding down the fort these last couple weeks,” coach Steve Kerr said, with no trace of gloom. “Tonight was tough, but given the state of our roster, to win five of these first six home games on this stretch, to have all these guys fighting and scrapping and clawing night after night has been really impressive.

“And it’s put us in a great position. We’ve got reinforcements coming. It was a tough loss, but more than anything, I’m just proud of the entire group.”

As the coach should be. No Stephen Curry. No Andrew Wiggins. No JaMychal Green. Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman added to the list. Still awaiting Andre Iguodala, who is getting very close.

“We’re not good enough to blow anybody out right now,” Kerr said before tipoff. “But we’re good enough to win games and we’re just trying to continue that trend and get our guys back.”

In the 10 days since their 123-109 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Christmas Day, the Warriors had beaten the Charlotte Hornets by five, the Utah Jazz by five, the Portland Trail Blazers by six and the Atlanta Hawks by two.

Golden State trailed by nine with 5:47 remaining in regulation before pushing the Hawks into overtime. Trailed by eight inside the final five minutes before riding a 16-2 closing run against the Blazers. Trailed by 10 late in the third quarter before limiting the Jazz to 13 points in the fourth. Blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead over the Hornets but recovered in time to finish.

The Warriors weren’t so much lucky during the streak as they were timely with their most remarkable play. Fantastic defense in fourth quarters overcame the shortcomings of the first three.

Not this time.

The exhilaration of Klay Thompson’s game-tying 3-ball with 2.3 seconds remaining lasted only until Saddiq Bey threw up a prayer that swished to send the Warriors shuffling into the locker room.

“We fought very hard and gave ourselves a chance to win it,” Thompson said. “Bey made an incredible shot, so credit to him, but just a hard fought, gutsy effort and I’m really proud of every single man who played.”

The Warriors fell behind early, with Detroit scoring 34 points on 66.7-percent shooting in the first quarter. Aside from a 12-second span in the second quarter, Golden State spent rest of the night chasing the Pistons. Not until Klay’s dunk with 7:33 remaining, for a 99-98 lead, did they catch up.

That lasted 15 seconds before the Warriors were again playing uphill.

“We couldn’t get stops,” Kerr said of the opening quarter. “Same thing at the start of the third quarter. We brought some good energy at the start of the third, and they kept hitting shots.”

The Pistons shot 48.9 percent from the field, the highest percentage of any visiting team at Chase Center since the Denver Nuggets fired at 53.5 percent in the first week of the season. Detroit shot 44.4 percent beyond the arc, the highest percentage of any visitor this season.

This was not about turnovers, although Detroit picked up 22 points with them. This was not about fouling too much, although the Warriors were whistled nine more times (20-11). This was not about Draymond Green getting ejected in the final minute over a soft second technical foul.

This was about the rent coming due and the Warriors not being able to delay payment. The fourth quarter magic abandoned them.

“A five-win run at home; hopefully, we can bounce back Saturday and another one a couple days after that,” Thompson said. “We have a great opportunity to really finish great on this last home stretch.”

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That they do. The Orlando Magic, who are 14-24 but have won eight of their last 13, come to town on Saturday.  Then come the Phoenix Suns, who have lost four straight and 12 of their last 16, next Tuesday.

There is ground to be gained. But the Warriors had best avoid playing uphill and hoping they’ll find a way at the top.

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