Nobody's going to call this game a classic, but everyone will remember it. The Blazers came out tired and uninspired, and neither team seemed very interested in playing defense. Portland stayed close, but played from behind most of the night as Detroit's inside presence provided much easier buckets. In fact, Detroit led by 13 in the fourth quarter. But as this season's Blazers are apt to do, they scratched and clawed back into the game, bucket by bucket. They somehow picked up their energy to lock down the defense, and finally tied the game down the stretch. In overtime, the teams played to a standstill until Damian Lillard once again stole the show, with an isolated elbow fadeaway jumper as the clock ran out. This was easily one of the most shocking wins of the season.
The teams were fairly even statistically tonight, with a few exceptions:
As expected, Detroit dominated the points in the paint, with 68 to Portland's 42. Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, who combined for 30 points and 21 rebounds, were a big part of that. But Josh Smith was also a factor, as he was nearly unguardable, beating both Batum and Matthews for easy buckets in isolation.
Turnovers helped keep this game close. Portland turned the ball over 10 times, for 10 Detroit points. But helped by 9 steals, the Blazers forced 15 turnovers for 17 points.
Portland came back to Earth from three-point land, hitting only 7 of their 26 attempts. But Detroit only hit 3 of their 15 at the other end.
LaMarcus Aldridge should be the odds-on favorite to repeat as NBA Western Player of the Week tomorrow. He finished with 27 points on 11-25 shooting, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks. There aren't a lot of superlatives left to write about Aldridge, which is a little scary 25 games into the season. He held his own against a bruising Detroit interior.
Damian Lillard scored 23 points, with 7 assists and 3 steals. He might have been a goat if the Blazers lost in regulation. But his 8 points in overtime, capped by the game-winner, changed the narrative in a hurry.
Nicolas Batum had the usual quiet-but-effective night. He was burned repeatedly by Josh Smith, who flew by him multiple times for layups and dunks. However, he had a few big plays down the stretch, including a perfectly run fast-break after a steal. He had 18 points, with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
Robin Lopez did his best against a dominant front-line, the second consecutive night with a tough defensive assignment. Drummond had a big night, but Lopez' numbers remained as steady as ever: 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 assists. He also did this to the Pistons' mascot:
Wesley Matthews had a relatively quiet night, with 14 points (1-5 from three) and 5 rebounds.
Mo Williams had a fairly rough night off the bench (8 points on 3-10 shooting with 3 assists), but hit two very timely three-pointers to keep the Blazers in the game.
Joel Freeland won't put this game on his highlight video, but was 2-3 with 5 rebounds in limited action thanks to his back injury in the first half. He returned later in the game and seemed to be ok.
Thomas Robinson and Dorell Wright played small roles. Robinson did not return after he struggled against Detroit's interior for 5 minutes. Wright played his usual 13 minutes and hit a three-pointer, but his two steals may have been more valuable.
First Quarter: The game started out as a slow back-and-forth affair, as neither team could gain an advantage early. So close, in fact, that Blazers Coach Terry Stotts immediately called timeout when the Pistons' lead reached 4 points. Portland pushed back, and when their lead reached for, Detroit called their own timeout. In response. Portland kept up the offensive pressure, even if their defensive will was weak.
Portland 29, Detroit 22
This team is just lost without Meyers
Second Quarter: The Blazers jumped ahead by 11, but unfortunately Freeland immediately left the game holding his back after a screen. That forced Lopez back into the game for longer minutes against Detroit's bruising interior. And as the Blazers bench did their duty, the shots stopped falling and Detroit slowly forced their will on the game. They went on a 14-2 run to turn that 11 point deficit into a 1 point lead. Stotts called timeout, but the Blazers came back out and missed, and missed, and missed. The Pistons' 1 point lead turned into 7, and the Blazers had nothing going. But as the starters returned, the game slowed down and Portland closed the gap.
Detroit 51, Portland 50
It's nice to watch a game like this and not dread the second half
Third Quarter: Detroit kept a slim lead, built on the back of Porltand's poor defense. Much like the start of the game, both teams struggled to gain an advantage, until Detroit called timeout. Afterward, they scored 8 points in one minute to leap ahead, leaving Portland on their heels. Soon, the Pistons lead was 11, and the Blazers were struggling to simply stay close. They brought in the bench, and Dorell Wright and the returning Freeland combined for 5 quick points to keep things within reach. But minutes later, an 11 point lead again. The clearly tired Blazers tried to make a push in the final two minutes to keep things manageable, but that gave them zero results. The quarter ended with the Blazers slowly walking back to the bench to regroup.
Detroit 84, Portland 73
Fourth Quarter: Detroit promptly scored on their first possession, while the Blazers continued to miss all their shots. If you showed this game to a random person and asked which team had slept the night before, 100% of them would give the correct answer. The Blazers made one last push though, as they cut the lead to 7 with a Matthews layup, followed by a Batum three to cut the lead to 4 with 6:45 left. Portland kept fighting, and were still down by 3 with under three minutes left. But Lillard's three-pointer missed, but on the next possession he tipped in an Aldridge miss to pull within one! Rodney Stuckey quickly restored the Pistons' 3 point lead though. Lillard hit a free throw, but missed the second, and the ball bounced out of bounds off Detroit! The Blazers had the ball and a chance to tie with 37 seconds left.Batum missed, but Matthews was fouled on the rebound with 30 seconds left. He hit both free throws to tie the game!
After a timeout, Detroit ran the clock down and handed the ball to Stuckey, who missed a floater! The Blazers had 11 seconds left, and a chance for an improbable win. Lillard ran the clock down but lost control, giving Detroit possession of the ball with 1.1 seconds left. Detroit passed the ball to Lillard, who took a shot from the other end... and missed. Overtime.
Overtime: Drummond gave Detroit the lead with a free throw, but Lopez gave the Blazers the lead with a tip-in at the other end. Josh Smith tried to dominate Batum again, but got his pocket picked, leading to a pretty two-man fast-break for a Lillard layup! Detroit scored at the other end, but then fouled Lillard on the drive. His free throws restored a 3 point lead. At the other end, Brandon Jennings sunk a tough step-back three to tie the game. With under 2 minutes left, Aldridge's jumper put the Blazers ahead by 2 again, and Jennings tried another step-back three. Brick. Batum returned the favor at the other end with a similar miss, and Drummond tied the game with a tip in, with one minute left. The Blazers missed on their next possession, but worked hard for an offensive board with 30 seconds left. They called timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Blazers ran the same play from the end of regularion. Lillard drove for a layup and missed, but was fouled. He hit both free throws. It was Detroit's turn, so they called timeout. Portland's defense forced another timeout. they gave it to Stuckey, who bounced in an elbow jumper to tie the game with 13 seconds left. The teams were right back to the same situation as regulation, with the Blazers having a chance to win. Damian gave it a run, and faded away from the elbow as the clock ran out.... SWISH! THE BLAZERS WIN!
One desperately-needed full day of rest, the calm before the next storm: another set of back-to-back games, in Cleveland and Minnesota.
Comments of the Night:
Another busy night in our Gameday Thread! I quoted a few favorites, but here are the most popular comments of the night: