Highlights: Defense, bench ignite Warriors past Pistons
Jermaine O'Neal backed up his 23-point, 13-rebound performance against Brooklyn with 16 points and 10 rebounds vs. Detroit. (USATI)
After spending the better part of three quarters as if they left their defense behind in the sunny Bay Area, the Warriors thawed out just in time in frigid Detroit.
Their 104-96 win over the Pistons was a study in early perseverance, in scuffling about until the defense finally showed up.
That came in the fourth quarter, when the Warriors outscored Detroit 23-13, breaking open a close game to win going away.
It was the fourth consecutive triumph for the Warriors (35-22), their longest win streak since they won 10 in a row at the beginning of the calendar year.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each scored 19 points to lead five Warriors in double figures. Jermaine O'Neal, who started at power forward in place of David Lee, finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds – his second straight double-double.
The game marked the return of center Andrew Bogut, who missed seven games with shoulder inflammation. He had four points and seven rebounds before fouling out.
The Warriors started slowly, allowing Detroit to score 37 points in the first quarter, before gathering themselves and peaking late. The Pistons shot 50 percent in the first half, but were held to 30 percent (14 of 47) in the second half.
Detroit power forward Greg Monroe led all scorers with 23 points.
STANDOUT PERFORMERS: The bench – particularly Crawford, Barnes and Blake – did all it could to keep the Warriors in this game. The backups outscored the Detroit reserves 42-15
That, along with a late surge by Curry and O'Neal's steady presence, carried the day.
TURNING POINT: After Josh Smith's dunk gave the Pistons a 90-89 lead with 6:52 left, the Warriors responded with a 12-4 run, taking a 101-94 lead Curry hit a pair of free throws with 2:04 remaining.
That effectively ended the competition, as the Warriors closed out the win.
INJURY UPDATE: F David Lee (stomach flu) was not with the team but hopes join the trip Wednesday.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Warriors on Wednesday meet the Bulls at the United Center in Chicago. Though the Warriors defeated the Bulls on Feb. 6 in Oakland, Chicago has won seven of the last 11 meetings and 10 of the last 11 in Chicago.