Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons:  Analysis

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Analysis of the Portland Trail Blazers' 111-109 overtime victory against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon.

Because of the timing of this game I didn't get a chance to get to it until long after the final horn sounded.  Therefore we're not doing the usual recap.  Timmay graciously filled in by expanding his own Post-Game Recap. You can check there for details.  I'm going to give you mostly stream-of-consciousness thoughts.

First of all, this season has turned the corner from remarkable to just plain crazy.  One time...ONE TIME...when the Blazers found themselves in a split situation they lost.  That was against the Mavs and Monta Ellis.  In every other situation when the win has been in reach they've reached it.  21 wins in 25 games is insane enough, but it's nights like this that cause you to run out of vocabulary before you can adequately describe them.

That said, who else knew that with the game tied and Portland in possession for the last shot, the Blazers were going to win this?  The 2013-14 version of the team has pretty much taught us to expect it.  Let alone Damian Lillard an his otherworldly performances in overtime.  The Detroit cameras caught Rodney Stuckey laughing with Lillard before that final inbounds.  I'd like to imagine Damian was saying, "Yeah, you know this is coming to me," and Stuckey was giving him the friendly, "Yeah, keep talking..." laugh.  Guess what?  It was.  And he did it.

The Blazers must be Detroit's version of Jason Vorhees or some other horror movie monster.  Plenty of teams have lost to Portland because they're the equivalent of the kid out back smoking or the teenagers making out in the hammock.  But Detroit was pretty much the chaste blonde girl tonight.  They did most everything right.  They single-covered Portland most of the evening, though the Blazers did make them pay in spades when they deviated.  They kept Portland from uncontested threes and held the Blazers to 27% from the arc.  The usual way to make bigger defenders pay is to drive past them but the Blazers aren't great at that and Detroit had muscle inside too.  Plus Josh Smith was ripping his way through Portland's best defenders like they didn't exist.  The Pistons had two problems: they forgot how they built a lead and went guard-heavy in their offense as the game wound to a close and they didn't preserve integrity on the boards.  But they played the Blazers well enough that those could have been forgiven.  They were home free.  But this game going into overtime was the moment when we all yelled, "No, you idiot!  Don't go into that closet!!!"  Gee-gee-gee-hah-hah-hah.  Fire up the chainsaw, Damian.  She went in.

This game also demonstrated pretty clearly the importance of rebounds to the Blazers.  Portland prospered through second chance points.  More than that, though, Detroit's big runs were complemented with excellent board work on their part.  The glass was key to Portland's chances...an under-appreciated facet of this season.

Damian Lillard's multi-game slump looked really bad tonight until that OT hit.

Portland's bench laid an ostrich-sized egg until Mo Williams sparked the team with 8 points in the fourth period.  Without Mo the Blazers probably don't win this game.  But without Mo and the bench hurting so bad prior to the fourth the Blazers might not have been as far behind either.

LaMarcus Aldridge has to love nights when the opponent stays in single coverage.  He was great tonight, as usual.  Still, don't you have to pick that poison over the three-point barrage?  Detroit had this game in hand single-covering Aldridge.  They got wounded every time they did anything else.  I suspect more and more teams will catch onto this as the Blazers cycle through.  You could tell the Pistons were more ready for Portland this time than they were in the first meeting, though admittedly they played Portland tough both times.  I just wish for the Pistons' sake that they had more reliable and team-oriented guards.  They're free to get them now that their two games with Portland are history.

Robin Lopez saved this game on the offensive glass.  But man, Andre Drummond is scary.  The only thing that stopped him tonight was foul trouble.  Once again the Blazers got a healthy amount of respect from the refs even though they were on the road.  The worm sure has turned early in the season in that regard.  Last year the Blazers couldn't buy a call with an Amex Black card.  This year it seems like most of the 50-50 calls are going Portland's way.

I wanted to be more impressed with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope than I ended up being.  Also it seems like the Pistons are wasting Greg Monroe a little.  Are we sure he's a power forward?

It's been so long that I almost forgot what Mo Cheeks' coaching face looks like.  Seeing him on the sideline gave me weird flashbacks.  I was looking over my shoulder for Zach Randolph.

Are any uniforms in the league sweeter than Portland's Rip City whites?  Maybe we can get every team to wear their alternate jerseys at home so Rip City can become the Blazers' road unis by default?

Boxscore

Detroit Bad Boys

With Cleveland and Minnesota on the horizon isn't it probable that this will prove to be another winning road trip?  If I have to choose, however, I want that Minnesota game pretty badly.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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