The Blazers were led in scoring by the returning LaMarcus Aldridge, with 32 points and 10 rebounds.Wesley Matthews added 19 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. But the rest of the starting lineup struggled all night long. Damian Lillard started shooting 0-13, eventually finishing with 12 points and 7 assists. JJ Hickson added 9 points and 8 rebounds, but was fairly invisible. Speaking of invisible, Nicolas Batum apparently played, and even pulled down 10 rebounds. The only pleasant surprise was Will Barton, who brought energy off the bench for 12 points and 2 steals.
First Quarter: This was one ugly start to an ugly game. The Blazers looked tired, and the Pistons simply looked awful. After 7 minutes, the score was 5-4 and there were lids on both buckets. Eventually, Detroit made a few shots, but Portland forgot to bring the Stumptown coffee with them. A terrible Hickson foul for a three point play gave Detroit a 7 point lead, then a JJ goaltend made it 9. A slow and grinding affair ended with the Pistons still leading by the same amount, thanks to a hot Brandon Knight.
Wow... the Blazers are making the Pistons look like the Pistons of the early 2000's
Second Quarter: Leonard is the early story, helping keep the Blazers within single digits. When a Matthews three cut the deficit to three, Detroit called timeout, but the Blazers had awoken. An Aldridge drive for a layup and foul gave them the lead. Detroit regained the lead, but an unexpected hero emerged for Portland: Barton. Bringing in energy off the bench, he hit a few shots to keep Portland close. But as Lillard struggled (0-8 FG's in the first half), the Blazers fell behind by 5 as the quarter closed.
Shots not going in, i'm ok with that. Letting the pistons score 54 points in a half on 55% shooting… no bueno.
Third Quarter: Knight continued to keep the Pistons in front, as the Blazers tried to regain the lead. But as Lillard struggled, so did the Blazers. Soon, Detroit's lead reached double-digits. The lid continued to cover the Blazer rim, when they were able to get the ball over the front of it. By this point, A frustrated trio of Lillard, Batum and Hickson were a combined 2-23 FG's. Lillard finally got on the board late with a few field goals. The Blazers cut the lead to 4 late in the third, and looked good. Detroit scored on the next possession. In turn, Ronnie Price missed a quick shot in order to have a 2-for-1 advantage. However, they then used the foul-to-give, which canceled the shot clock. In return, Kyle Singler nailed a three, giving Detroit 5 quick points to end the quarter leading by 9.
We can't play this bad and stay this close without winning.
Fourth Quarter: Barton had a steal and score to start the quarter, but a Stuckey three made the Detroit lead 10. A poor play led to an easy Detroit dunk for a 12 point lead, as the few fans in attendance cheered, and Blazer fans at home facepalmed. Detroit pushed the lead to 15 as Portland couldn't do anything on the court, standing around looking tired and semi-uninterested at times. Their listless defense prevented any serious comeback, as it made Detroit looked like Finals contenders.It didn't help that the Blazers hit one FG in a 5 minute stretch of the fourth. Despite a late comeback attempt, the Blazers headed off to their next destination, where both teams will be desperate for a win.
The next game is Wednesday afternoon, a 4pm game against an awful, terrible, winless Wizards team in Washington DC. Stay tuned later for Dave's analysis, which will surely be interesting! -- Tim