AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Warriors guard Monta Ellis seemed to play angry in the second half of Sunday's game at Detroit, scoring 17 second-half points to lift Golden State to a 99-91 victory.
The Warriors (4-8) earned coach Mark Jackson his first road victory, rebounding from Saturday's "embarrassing" loss at Charlotte. Golden State also kept alive its hopes of winning the four-game trip, which continues Tuesday in Cleveland.
It wasn't Ellis' best game -- he finished with 22 points, seven assists and five turnovers. But the annoyed edge he played with, from his determined drives to the scowl on his face, set the tone as the Warriors grinded out their first win in Detroit since March 2007.
Maybe it was because he struggled in the first half, scoring just five points on four shots with three turnovers, prompting Jackson to give Ellis a long rest.
Or was it because he could sense another loss? By halftime, the Warriors weren't in such great shape after giving up 29 points on 50 percent shooting in the second quarter.
Perhaps the answer was a lot simpler, such as he banged his left knee late in the second quarter and was in pain the rest of the game.
"It hurt," Ellis said. "It hurt bad. But we needed this win. Sucked it up and worry about it later."
For whatever reason, Ellis' apparent agitation led to a gritty performance. And he wasn't alone.
Warriors forward David Lee made 10 of 12 shots and finished with 24
Forward Dorell Wright, despite missing 10 of 13 shots (including five 3-pointers), had a game-high 11 rebounds to go with three steals.
Golden State turned a tie score into a five-point lead to start the fourth quarter. Then, instead of allowing Detroit to retake control of the game, the Warriors turned it up a notch early in the fourth. A 78-73 advantage with 10:08 left ballooned to a 15-point lead by the 6:27 mark.
During that stretch, Golden State held Detroit scoreless on four shots with two turnovers. Guard Nate Robinson scored six straight points during the stretch, and two Ellis free throws gave the Warriors an 88-73 lead to cap the 10-0 run.
A couple of Pistons baskets kept the game interesting. But Golden State's defense held Detroit to one point on three shots for a 3-minute, 15-second span.
A 3-pointer by Detroit guard Ben Gordon with 2:15 left eventually broke the drought and seemed to give some life to the Pistons.
But Ellis came right back, before Detroit could mount any momentum, and nailed a 16-footer, jogging back down court with a menacing stare.
"He's gotten frustrated lately because he has been physically abused at times and is not getting to the line," Jackson said. "But the great players find a way -- in spite of adversity, in spite of not getting the benefit-of-the-doubt whistle -- to still gut it out. I'm glad the way he handled it."
Monroe's numbers have had Warriors fans calling Udoh's drafting a miss. Monroe came into Sunday's game averaging 16.6 points on 57.6 percent shooting with 9.2 rebounds -- all team highs.
Against the Warriors, he finished with 25 points and eight rebounds. He was 13 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Warriors general manager Larry Riley said Udoh isn't being judged by how well he stacks up to Monroe's production. Riley said the Warriors are happy with his defense, but they want more out of Udoh.
"What he has to do is get a little bit better as far as his rebound game is concerned, and get a little more offensive confidence," Riley said. "We need to see a little more growth out of him. It's coming, but its coming slowly. He's a guy who can show the ability to make a few jump shots in practice, and he's gotten to where it looks like he's comfortable with some low-post moves. But we need his game to grow."
Udoh showed a bit of why the Warriors chose him over Monroe. Golden State drafted Udoh for defensive help, and he gave it Sunday. His line: 27 minutes (season-high), 10 points, six rebounds, four blocks (season-high) and three steals.
Udoh helped hold Monroe scoreless in the fourth quarter.
"It's in the back of your mind," Udoh said of all the Monroe talk. "But at the end of the day, I've got to stick to what I do best. ... You've got to understand, I'm trying to help my team get wins. The more we win, the more people will see."