Jermaine O’Neal promised his teammates that he would play the rest of the season as if it was his last, and he backed his words in his last outing for the Golden State Warriors.
With the status of big men David Lee and Andrew Bogut uncertain, Golden State may need a similar effort against the imposing frontcourt of the Detroit Pistons.
The Warriors open a six-game trip looking for their fourth straight victory, while the Pistons hope to avoid their fifth loss in six games Monday night.
After totaling five points on 1-of-8 shooting in his previous two games, O’Neal stepped up Saturday with Lee out because of a stomach flu and Bogut sidelined for a seventh straight game due to a left shoulder injury.
The 18-year veteran finished with season highs of 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead Golden State (34-22) to a 93-86 win over Brooklyn. Draymond Green added a career-best 18 points to go with 10 boards in his fifth start of the season as the Warriors improved to 3-0 since the All-Star break.
”Whatever I have, I’m going to leave it on the table. I’ve said that quite a few times, but I’m dead serious,” said O’Neal, who made 10 of 13 shots. ”You may have to wheel me out of here at the end of the season, but that’s what I’m going to do.”
O’Neal has helped Golden State limit opponents to 92.3 points per game and a 39.5 field-goal percentage during its longest winning streak since a 10-game run Dec. 21-Jan. 7. He could make his fourth straight start as the Warriors go for their fourth win in five road games.
O’Neal also played well in the first matchup with Detroit (23-33), finishing with 17 points and six rebounds while making 7 of 8 shots in a 113-95 rout Nov. 12.
Stephen Curry led the way with 25 points and eight assists in that game, and he had 22 points, 10 assists and four steals in the most recent meeting in Detroit on Dec. 5, 2012. Backcourt mate Klay Thompson scored 27 with five 3-pointers in the 104-97 victory.
If the Warriors remain short-handed, they could have their hands full with Detroit’s Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
Smith and Monroe combined for 49 points on 21-of-33 shooting with 20 rebounds and five blocks Saturday, but the Pistons couldn’t overcome Drummond’s foul trouble in a 113-102 loss to visiting Dallas.
Drummond had eight points and matched a season low with three boards in under 20 minutes after averaging 17.4 points and 15.7 rebounds over his previous seven home games.
He may be able to bounce back since he’s totaled 31 points and 26 rebounds while shooting 14 of 18 in two career meetings with the Warriors.
”Andre is a guy who is normally always into the flow, but he wasn’t able to do that, whether because of the fouls or something else," interim coach John Loyer said. "I know he’ll be in the gym tomorrow making sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Smith posted a season-high 32 points on 14-of-20 shooting Saturday, though he’s scored a combined five while missing 16 of 18 attempts in his last two against Golden State dating to his time with Atlanta.
The Warriors have won five straight and six of seven meetings.