Blake Griffin

How Draymond Green's defense set tone for Warriors in win vs. Pistons

How Draymond Green's defense set tone for Warriors in win vs. Pistons

OAKLAND - Ten minutes into the first quarter of Sunday's win over the Pistons, Draymond Green found himself in the post against fellow forward and former adversary Blake Griffin. With 10 seconds left in the shot clock, Griffin took a couple of jab steps, trying to make room along the baseline, but not before Green's defense forced the All-Star to fumble the ball, allowing the shot clock to expire.

Green then tapped Pistons head coach Dwane Casey and held a blank stare to the crowd. The play, like his one-on-one battle with Griffin on Sunday night, set the tone Golden State's 121-114 victory over Detroit.

"I thought Draymond's energy and defensive effort sparked us all night," Steve Kerr said following the game.

From the onset of Sunday's matchup, Griffin, who finished with 24 points on 6-of-14 from the field, seemed to be playing the memories of yesteryear as much he played Green. For his first several possessions he sought out the Warriors' forward in the post, hoping his array of powerful post moves would beat the former Defensive Player of the Year.

Instead, he shot just 3-for-8 in the first half.

“At some point, somebody gotta figure it out," Green said. "Like, don’t target me in the post. I’ve been dealing with that my whole career. It used to piss me off, now it's like whatever. If y'all are going to do that, you'll probably lose.”

As Green's reached championship heights over the years, it's important to remember Griffin's role in Green's career. It was Griffin, then a member of the Clippers, who got under Green's skin in 2013 on Christmas Day, when both were ejected late in the second half of a Warriors win. It was Griffin and the Clippers who provided a stage for Green, then a role player, to break out in the 2014 Western Conference playoffs four months later, when Green averaged 11.9 points and 8.9 rebounds. And it was Griffin whom Green looked to as he hit a 3-pointer in the final moments of a Warriors win in 2014, one of the lasting images in the rivalry and the beginning of Golden State's current run.

This season, Griffin has been fantastic, averaging 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists, earning his sixth All-Star appearance last month. Now, years later, Green still gets up for the matchup against Griffin, even as he plays more than 2,000 miles away from Los Angeles.

"I enjoy playing against great players and taking on a challenge," Green said. "Blake is a great player, he's gotten a lot better since the last time I faced him and I try to be physical. Very strong, likes to go bully ball from time to time, just staying my ground and trying to make him take tough shots."

Green's performance also helped whip the stain of a 126-91 loss to the Mavericks on Saturday night. In the first half, the Warriors held the Pistons to 44 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from 3-point range. The outing came as the Warriors are trying to stay atop the Western Conference with nine games remaining.

[RELATED: Kerr on plan to rest Curry]

This season, Green has battled injuries, sideline shouting matches with superstar teammates and the expected failure to reach his goal of the Defensive Player of the Year award. But, at least for a night, the Warriors' heartbeat set the tone guarding the Pistons' best player.

"He takes the challenge when he faces Blake (Griffin)," Kerr said. "They have been going head to head for many years and its a hell of a challenge, Blake is tough as anybody to guard and Draymond was fantastic."

Kings Under Review: Buddy Hield to the rescue in win over Pistons

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USATSI

Kings Under Review: Buddy Hield to the rescue in win over Pistons

The shot heard 'round the Motor City. On the brink of an 0-2 start to their six-game road trip, the Kings found a way to turn a disappointing loss into a momentum-building victory Saturday night at Little Caesars Arena. 

Blake Griffin punished the Kings with one isolation play after another to build multiple double-digit leads. Sacramento trailed by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter, but in classic Kings fashion, they never gave in. 

Marvin Bagley showed some fight. De'Aaron Fox delivered dimes. Willie Cauley-Stein crashed the glass at the right time, and Buddy Hield turned into a flamethrower to put the Kings over the top for a stunning 103-101 win.

Hield's game-winner pushed Sacramento back to two games over the .500 mark at 24-22. Here are the positives and the negatives from the win.

POSITIVE

Big Shot Buddy

Everyone gets a shot to hit a game winner with the Kings. De'Aaron Fox, Skal Labissiere, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Willie Cauley-Stein have all finished off a game with last-second shot over the past two seasons. You can now add Hield to the list.

The Kings' leading scorer finished off an incredible evening with a magical moment. After scoring 20 points in the first half, Hield went dormant in the the third quarter. When Dave Joerger released him on the Pistons with 6:53 remaining and the Kings trailing by 10, it was game on.

It wasn't just one basket. Hield almost singlehandedly shot the Kings back into the game. He scored 15 of his team-high 35 points in the final 3:26 of the game.

[RELATED: How Kings actually came out ahead after Cousins trade]

POSITIVE

Bagley's Ready

Griffin put the entire Kings' front line on skates. He forced the action, got the calls and looked every bit the player that made five All-Star appearances early in his career.

First Griffin tore through Nemanja Bjelica. When Cauley-Stein tried to help out, he picked up two quick fouls. Harry Giles met the same fate, as Joerger searched for answers.

Marvin Bagley stepped up to the challenge. He wasn't perfect and Griffin continued his scoring barrage, but there was a fight in Bagley that the Kings need.

After taking a few shots from Griffin on a loose ball, the 19-year-old stepped up and had words with the Pistons star. Fox was there to pull him away, but that fact that he was willing to engage is a sign of competitive fire.

Joerger started Bagley in the second half and for a while, Griffin cooled off. The Kings' prized rookie finished the night with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. He didn't rebound like you would expect, but it was a solid outing against a big time opponent.

NEGATIVE

The Disappearance of Bjelica

Bjelica was an impact player for Sacramento early in the season, but he's in a major-league slump. In 10 games in January, the 30-year-old forward is averaging 7.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 23.6 minutes per game. He's shooting just 39.1 percent from the field, and 28.1 percent from behind the arc over that stretch.

Against the Pistons, he struggled to stay with Griffin, which is to be expected. On the offensive end, he missed a few wide-open looks early and finished with five points on 2-of-5 shooting in 15 minutes of action.

Bjelica's lone make from behind the arc came early in the fourth, and it was from 30-feet out.

Whether teams have adjusted to his play style or he's getting fewer opportunities, the Kings need Bjelica. If he doesn't snap out of his slumber, expect Bagley to start picking up more time.

POSITIVE

Fighting Fox

We've reached that point in the season when the toll of an 82-game schedule starts to wear on players. Fox is playing major minutes in his sophomore year, and his numbers have fallen off a bit in January.

Joerger has been mindful of the impact the minutes have had on Fox and others. The 21-year-old is the driving force behind the team's pace of play and he's been a target for the opposition.

Against the Pistons, he struggled with his shot, but still managed to post 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting in 35 minutes of play. With his shot not falling, he set up his teammates, dishing 10 assists without turning the ball over.

The All-Star break is just around the corner, which will give Fox some time to rest up for the stretch run.

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 103-101 buzzer-beating win over Pistons

Kings takeaways: What we learned in 103-101 buzzer-beating win over Pistons

BOX SCORE

The cardiac Kings were staring at an 0-2 start to their road trip. And then Buddy Hield happened.

The shooting guard was huge early in Saturday night's game against the Detroit Pistons, but then he went dormant. When he woke in the fourth quarter, it was game on.

Sacramento’s leading scorer went off for 15 points in the final frame, including a miraculous 3-pointer off one leg at the buzzer, to give the Kings a dramatic 103-101 win.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings stunned the Pistons with Hield's buzzer-beater to improve to 24-22 on the season.

Buddy Buckets comes through big time

Hield came out firing in the first half, scoring 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting before intermission. Then he completely disappeared in the third quarter, going scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting.

With the game on the line, though, Hield returned to form, including the dagger as time expired.

Hield finished with 35 points and shot 7-of-9 from behind the 3-point line. He added nine rebounds and one very special moment.

Blaaaaake

Blake Griffin is off to a great start this season with the Pistons. After missing the last matchup between these teams in Sacramento, the All-Star big man went to work on the Kings’ front line.

Detroit’s first option scored 22 points in the first half and looked unstoppable. Kings coach Dave Joerger made an adjustment coming out of the half, starting rookie Marvin Bagley at the four.

Bagley helped slow Griffin to just five points in the third quarter, but he bounced back in the fourth to finish the night with 38 points on 12-of-23 shooting and added six rebounds. It wasn’t enough to push the Pistons over the top.

Battling Bagley

It wasn’t a perfect game for the Kings’ rookie, but Bagley showed he wasn’t going to back down from anyone.

Griffin pulled out all the stops and got all the calls. But Bagley stayed the course and made an impact on the game.

Bagley posted 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 27 minutes of action. Joerger showed some faith in the 19-year-old out of Duke, who rewarded his coach with a gutsy performance.