Tonight, we gained a vivid reminder of how awful some post-lockout games can be. In a game as ugly as you'd expect at the end of a 6 game road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers come up short against the Detroit Pistons, 94-91. The Pistons deserve credit for working hard all night, but this is a game the Gerald-Wallace-less Blazers gave away with lackluster defense.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 25 points and only 4 rebounds, with Nicolas Batum (14 points, 9 rebounds), Craig Smith (10 points, 5 rebounds) and Raymond Felton (20 points, 9 assists) playing key roles.
With Wallace injured, and Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge racking up two quick fouls, the Blazers needed a go-to guy. Nicolas Batum raised his hand, scoring 10 points while returning to his starting role. Both teams struggled to a Blazer one point lead.
The second quarter started with a Luke Babbitt appearance. And a 12-0 Pistons run led by Jonas Jerebko. Correlation doesn't imply causation, but it sure felt like it tonight. The starters returned to stop the bleeding, holding the halftime deficit at 11.
The Blazers showed no energy, no fire coming out of the locker room in the third quarter, and the Pisons were clearly thrilled. Camby added two more fouls to his total, keeping his role to a minimum. However, after he departs, the Blazers typed the cheat code, with the defense creating a 16-2 run, capped with a Batum three. Detroit recovered for a 5 point lead.
The usual Blazer push started the fourth, as they closed to within one but could not get over the hump. Each time they had a shot at the lead, something went wrong. Turnover? Missed shot? You name it. At the other end, if Detroit missed, a tip-in was on the horizon. With 4 minutes left, the Blazers took a timeout while down by 5. Unfortunately, a comeback requires making buckets, and the Blazers could not throw it into the sea. Clank, Clank. Turnover. Clank. On the final possession, down three with 4 seconds left, Felton dribbled the ball off Tayshaun Prince's foot. The Blazers needed to win this game, but could not do so.
Check out the box score, then hang out here and stay tuned for Dave's recap. The Blazers pick up Monday in Portland, with the Sacramento Kings being the first of a back-to-back-to-back. -- Tim