SAN FRANCISCO — Missing every projected starter for next season for most of the game, the Warriors continued to get valuable contributions from players who should add depth to next year’s team — and from one player who could be traded within the month.
The Warriors lost 111-104 to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night at Chase Center, squandering a rare performance from the bench. For the first time in more than 10 years, Golden State got 77 points from its reserves.
They were led by guard Alec Burks (27 points on 5-for-13 shooting, seven rebounds, five assists) and forward Omari Spellman (23 points on 8-for-11 shooting, 4-for-4 from 3-point range, five rebounds).
Missing guard D’Angelo Russell (right shoulder contusion), center Kevon Looney (left abdominal soreness), guard Stephen Curry (left hand surgery), guard Klay Thompson (left knee surgery) and forward Draymond Green (ejected), Golden State’s reserves managed to keep the game close.
“Bench came in and did a great job and they had to because we got off to a very slow start,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “Second game in a row we came out of the gates slow and had to play from behind for pretty much the whole night. It’s a tough way to play. The bench came in and really did a good job for us.”
After he checked in in the second quarter, Spellman made all of his first five shot attempts, including going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, to score 14 points in eight energetic minutes as the Warriors (9-28) took a 59-56 lead into halftime.
Then, with the Warriors trailing by seven points with 4:57 left in the third quarter, Green picked up back-to-back technical fouls, earning an ejection, after talking to referee Tre Maddox.
Without Green, the Warriors seemed disjointed, and were outscored 55-45 in the second half. For the game, they committed 21 turnovers and 25 personal fouls that led to a combined 53 points for the Pistons (13-23).
For Golden State, Burks had the most impressive performance of the game. Constant trade speculation hasn’t deterred him from emerging as a valuable scorer for the Warriors. He again showed why Kerr remarked this week that he’d like to keep him beyond this season, but that seems doubtful.
Because the Warriors are motivated to promote one of their two-way contract players to the 15-man roster, it’s expected that Burks, 28, will be traded to a contender by the Feb. 6 trade deadline. Having been traded twice last season alone, Burks is used to performing under such conditions.
“It’s the same mindset whether I start or come off the bench,” Burks said. “Just try to play hard, be aggressive for myself and my teammates.”
Meanwhile, the Warriors have lost their fourth straight game on the heels of a four game win streak. As the losses have piled up this season, Golden State has remained pragmatic.
The organization’s forward-looking mindset could result in Burks playing for his second team this season, and in the Warriors finding valuable depth for when their stars are finally healthy.
A few more thoughts…
1. Spellman back in the rotation: Center Willie Cauley-Stein was back in the starting lineup after missing two games with flu-like symptoms, but Kerr limited him to 14 minutes. That made room for Spellman, whose playing time has dwindled in recent weeks.
Before Spellman played 22 minutes in Thursday’s loss in Minnesota, he had played a total of 25 minutes over the previous six games.
During that time, he missed two games with illness, which may have affected his play. “I had no energy,” Spellman said. “Anybody who knows me knows that isn’t like me.”
Feeling more like himself, Spellman wanted to reclaim his spot in the rotation.
“I was just going out and trying to play aggressive and seize the opportunity,” Spellman said after the game. “I don’t want to lie down and just accept losing minutes.”
2. Jordan Poole’s return: With their team thinned by injuries, Poole was recalled by the Warriors from their G League in Santa Cruz. He had been in Salt Lake City for a G League game Friday night and flew into San Francisco Saturday morning. For him, this was a back-to-back.
With that in mind, here are his stats from the G League compared to the NBA, to illustrate just how different the level of competition can be.
In three games with Santa Cruz: 26 points on 46.3% shooting (42.3% from 3-point range), 6.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 35.1 minutes per game.
In 29 games with Golden State: 7.1 points on 25.4% shooting (24.2% from 3-point range), 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 21.7 minutes per game.
When Poole checked in in the second quarter, he air-balled his first 3-pointer. Later, he missed a corner 3-pointer in transition that clanked off the side of the backboard. He finished with four points on 2-for-5 shooting (0-for-3 from 3-point range) and two assists.
The good news? He was a team-best plus-19.
3. Draymond Green’s ejection: With his ejection in the third quarter, Green is fittingly responsible for the first two ejections at Chase Center. What’s unique about this ejection is that Green was nearly on the side of the court from Maddox when he was assessed his second technical.
While no one divulged what it was Green said, Kerr could tell his frustrations were about to boil over.
“I saw his frustration,” Kerr said. “The game wasn’t going well. He was frustrated.”
Dray was just ejected from this game pic.twitter.com/98SCJqH6Br
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) January 5, 2020
4. Ky Bowman, guarding his favorite player: Growing up in Havelock, N.C., Bowman, 22, loved to watch now-31-year-old Derrick Rose. He brings him up in conversation often, and you can see Rose’s influence in Bowman’s game. A score-first point guard at Boston College, Bowman likes to use his outsized athleticism to slash to the rim.
Here’s what Bowman had to say about going head-to-head with Rose.
Ky Bowman on playing against Derrick Rose, his favorite player growing up. pic.twitter.com/uuxb91VPPZ
— Wes Goldberg (@wcgoldberg) January 5, 2020