The Golden State Warriors are on their way up in the NBA. Should the young team keep improving, they could soon be one of the league's elite.
But they're not there yet.
The Pistons hung around in front of the Warriors' second sellout crowd this season and waited for Rasheed Wallace to take over in the fourth quarter Friday night and lift the Pistons to a 106-103 win and 14-2 record.
Nearly every time the Pistons needed a big shot in the fourth, they went to Wallace. He tied the score four times in the quarter and finished with 22 points.
After Wallace tied the game at 94 with two free throws, he stole a pass at the other end and set up Chauncey Billups, who finished with 27 points, with the go-ahead lay-up. The Pistons didn't trail again, as small forward Tayshaun Prince, who finished with 15 points, nailed a buzzer-beating hook shot, shooting guard Richard Hamilton (22 points) hit two free throws, and Billups hit two with nine seconds left.
Give the Warriors credit. They still had a chance to tie it at the end.
Former MSU star Jason Richardson, who scored 36 points, hit a three-pointer with 13 seconds left to get Golden State within 102-101. Billups hit his two free throws to put Detroit back up three.
Then coach Flip Saunders called for the Pistons to foul, taking away Golden State's chance to tie it on a three. Billups sent Baron Davis to the line. He hit both his shots. Then Rasheed Wallace sent the inbounds pass all the way down the floor to Ben Wallace, who put up an uncontested dunk. Fisher launched a three at the buzzer but missed.
No lead was sacred in this game. Neither team led by more than four or five most of the game. Mostly, though, it was Golden State in front with the Pistons constantly trying to match their energy and baskets at the other end.
They finally did in the fourth quarter.
Last time the Pistons saw the Warriors, it was Davis' debut. The point guard's arrival in Golden State via a trade with New Orleans at last year's trade deadline has lifted the Warriors from the bottom of the Western Conference. Davis finished with 14 points and 14 assists.