Detroit — In what was perceived as the most unlikely game to win at this juncture of the Pistons’ brutal schedule, they weathered a 36-point third quarter by the reigning NBA champions with their own offensive explosion.
Detroit produced 37 points of its own in the third quarter — combined with with a career scoring night from Isaiah Stewart and balanced offensive production from its starters — to earn its second win of the season, a 128-114 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
In the midst of a barrage of 3-pointers by Jordan Poole, fans inside Little Caesars Arena erupted during a sequence in which Cade Cunningham blocked Stephen Curry’s layup attempt midway through the third quarter. Seconds later, Jaden Ivey took the ball the length of the floor and forcefully threw down a dunk over James Wiseman.
It served as a statement for a young Pistons team desperately seeking a win after losing their last five games.
The win also marked Detroit’s first win over Golden State since Jan. 4, 2020.
“It’s another step of our growth,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We’re a growing team. We’re a learning team. We can take a lot of clips off tonight and still learn from them. Taking care of the basketball, that’s what caused a lot of that hole we dug for ourselves in the first quarter, so we’re always learning.”
The Pistons’ scoring was well-balanced amongst the starting group. Saddiq Bey led the team with 28 points and five rebounds. Stewart had a career-high 24 points along with 13 rebounds while connecting on 10 of his 11 free throws. Cunningham flirted with a triple-double of 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Bojan Bogdanovic, who agreed to a two-year extension with the Pistons on Sunday, added 21 points, three rebounds and three assists. Ivey had 15 points, five rebounds and three assists.
Detroit made 14 three-pointers, tied for the second most this season, and went 8-for-14 from beyond the arc in the second quarter, matching its best three-point shooting quarter this season.
The offensive cohesion from the first unit was needed, especially since the Pistons only received 17 points from their bench.
“We lost a few in a row so we just tried to keep believing in ourselves that we could play with any team. It definitely felt good,” Bey said.
Golden State’s high-powered offense (fourth in the NBA in points per game) was without Klay Thompson due to injury management, so Poole started in his place. The former Michigan guard put on a show, specifically in the third quarter when he scored 18 of his 30 points. He knocked down five of six shots from the 3-point line in that period.
“I was being aggressive, taking open shots, and just playing my game,” Poole said. “I think we got comfortable playing with that type of physicality. We must get back to playing regular defense, and we will fix it. I know we will.”
Curry scored a game-high 32 points and added six rebounds. Outside of Curry and Poole, the only Warriors player to reach double scoring figures was Andrew Wiggins, who tallied 10 points and three rebounds.
The Warriors, who finished 12-for-39 from the 3-point line, struggled to score for the majority of the first half. Five of those of those 3-pointers were from Poole.
Several celebrities were in attendance for Sunday’s win, including hip-hop legend E-40, Detroit rapper Royce Da 5’9”, former Michigan Fab Five member Jalen Rose and Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo. Rose was animated throughout the game, clapping and standing after most of Cunningham’s baskets.
Cunningham continued his offensive groove from the mid-range, which included a stepback from the baseline and a string of dribble moves before nailing one over Curry in the latter part of the first quarter. His block that sparked Ivey’s thunderous dunk was an example of Detroit’s improved commitment to the defensive end.
After giving up a season-high 163 points to Atlanta on Friday, the Pistons limited the Warriors to 114 — five points below their season average.
“They responded,” Casey said. “We did one of our better jobs of executing our switches, our double switches. All of the parts of our defense that we were harping on yesterday, we carried it our today, which is important.”
The Pistons debuted their Classic Edition teal uniforms against the Hawks on Friday and wore them again Sunday against the Warriors. The victory marked Detroit’s first win in teal jerseys since April 11, 2001 — a 99-90 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
The win was much-needed for Detroit, but it came at a cost.
Fans inside Little Caesars Arena groaned when Hamidou Diallo awkwardly landed on rookie center Jalen Duren’s left ankle following a block attempt. Duren clutched his ankle for a minute and was helped to the floor by his teammates, who escorted him to the locker room. He did not return to the game.
“He was in ice when I went in to check on him,” Casey said.
“I don’t know how severe it is. I’m sure tomorrow we’ll know a little bit more.”
Detroit’s frontcourt depth is already depleted as Marvin Bagley III recovers from a right knee sprain.
If Duren is unable to play in Monday’s road game against Milwaukee, veteran center Nerlens Noel might get an opportunity to make his season debut.
The Pistons (2-5) will enter the second leg of their third string of back-to-back games in 10 days against the Bucks on Monday. It’s the first of a two-game road trip against Milwaukee (5-0), the only undefeated team remaining in the NBA.
“The NBA, even if you lose or win, you have one tomorrow so we have a quick turnaround,” Bey said.