Warriors struggle early again, make enough shots late to beat Detroit

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — It wasn’t pretty, but the Warriors did enough when it mattered most to extend their winning streak against Eastern Conference teams on the road to 14.

Playing on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, Golden State needed some big shots from Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to secure a 119-112 over the Detroit Pistons.

For the second night in a row, the Warriors played lackluster defense early in the game. The Pistons, losers of five of their last six entering the game, played evenly with the visitors in the first quarter when each team shot better than 57 percent from the floor.

“I didn’t see a lot of growth during the meat of the game. I saw a little regression but 23 turnovers, a lot of careless defense, but I was happy with how we closed the game out,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “… Good way to finish the game. But overall, not a great performance.

“But we’ll take it.”

Their defense didn’t improve in the second quarter, when the Dubs were outscored 27-24 and committed another six turnovers after logging the same number in the first. The Pistons went into the locker room at the break with a 59-57 lead.

The difference on this night, as opposed to Thursday in Brooklyn, is the Warriors didn’t have any problems sustaining offense as Kevin Durant met little resistance in attacking a Detroit defense that didn’t have any answers for him. He finished the game with 32 points on 13-for-18 shooting.

“Any win in the NBA is a good win,” Durant said. “[Detroit is a] young, talented team. Their record might not be where they want it to be but they’re better than what their record is.”

Despite Durant’s success, the rest of his team struggled to produce and the Pistons were able to keep it close well into the fourth quarter, even securing a five-point lead with a little more than nine minutes to play.

Midrange jumpers on three-straight possessions from David West and Durant erased the deficit.

A questionable foul call on Durant, his fifth, led Steve Kerr to sub him out of the game, and the Pistons were able to take advantage of his absence as they made enough shots to keep the game within a couple points.

Durant returned to the game with a little more than three minutes remaining and after grabbing a defensive rebound, he hit a straight-away 3-pointer to reinstitute Golden State’s lead.

Draymond Green struggled shooting the ball (1-for-8) after having an extremely busy 24 hours prior. He landed in Michigan in the early morning Friday after racing home before the game in Brooklyn to be with his girlfriend Jelissa Hardy after she gave birth to his son Draymond Jr. He admitted he was playing with heavier legs than what he was accustomed to after flying cross-country three times in the last 48 hours.

“I couldn’t get some shots to fall but life goes on, you gotta play through it,” Green said. “In the NBA, you get tough travel all the time, tough circumstances, play through it and try to win the game.”

He was effective in other ways, though, as he grabbed 10 rebounds and threw 12 assists — marking his third assists-rebounds double-double of the season.

Green made his only basket count when he was the beneficiary of a well-drawn play out of a timeout that led to a vicious dunk to put the Warriors ahead 112-110 with a little more than a minute to play.

Klay Thompson hit a step-back 18-footer to expand the lead to four on the very next possession. After Caldwell-Pope hit a leaning jumper to keep the game within reach for Detroit, Thompson sunk the dagger by drilling a 3-pointer from the right wing. Thompson finished with 17 points in an otherwise forgettable night.

“Klay is so confident in those situations, even on a night when he doesn’t really have it rolling, we’re still going to go to him if he’s open,” Kerr said.

The Warriors move to an NBA-best 27-4 with the victory, which was their seventh straight.

“I don’t think we’re playing that great,” Green said. “I think we know how to win.”

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