The Warriors won the war Saturday, but they lost the battle.
The victory being referred to here was the only one Golden State experienced in Detroit on Saturday -- Stephen Curry’s return to game action after missing the previous 11 contests with a groin injury.
The battle, of course, is what came afterward.
Curry and the Warriors put forth one of their least aesthetically-pleasing performances of the season, falling 111-102 on the road to the Pistons. Golden State struggled in large part due to their deficiencies from long distance, as the Warriors made just six of their 26 three-point attempts (23.1 percent), compared to 12-of-35 shooting (34.3 percent) from beyond the arc for the Pistons.
Following the disappointing defeat, both Curry and coach Steve Kerr were critical of their own individual performances.
“Just nice to get back out there, get my legs underneath me,” Curry said after the loss. “Played a terrible first half, and that pretty much set the tone for the game.”
Curry’s first half marksmanship may have been off, but his assessment of it was spot on. The two-time NBA MVP was clearly rusty in his first game back, especially at the start.
He played nine minutes in the first quarter, but went scoreless and missed all three of his three-point attempts in the opening frame. He fared slightly better in the second quarter, but went into halftime with seven points to his name after shooting 2-of-9 from the field and 0-of-5 from beyond the arc.
“The first half I was going 100 miles an hour,” Curry related, “but just didn't have the right timing. Wasn't seeing the floor very well, or seeing the rim very well, for that matter.”
The Warriors’ straw that stirs the drink turned things around in the second half, however. Curry converted eight of his 12 attempts for 20 points over the final two quarters, including 3-of-4 shooting from three-point land.
“The second half was better,” Curry continued, “a little more aggressive, decisive. Obviously seen some shots go down. Just gaining confidence and feeling good, so I'm sure that will carry over.”
While disappointed in the final result, Curry was of the mentality that it won't be long until he finds his groove. Kerr echoed a similar sentiment.
"Wasn't [Curry's] best game," Kerr said, "but I'm not at all worried about Steph."
The Warriors' coach was far more critical when it came to assessing his own performance in the defeat.
"I’ve gotta do a better job, honestly," Kerr confessed. "Tonight was probably a game I could mark down as one of my worst performances as a coach, honestly."
When asked to expand on that self-assesment, Kerr detailed his dissatisfaction with the Warriors' spacing and shot selection, but ultimately came back to himself.
"All in all, I’ve gotta do a better job than I have the first couple months of the season," Kerr summarized. "This has gotta get better."
Winless two games into the Warriors' current five-game road trip, the time for that necessary improvement has arrived.