The Detroit Pistons kept is close at home, but LaMarcus Aldridge showed them why he is the Western Conference Player of the Week.
Aldridge had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Wesley Matthews had 19, and the Portland Trail Blazers fought off the Detroit Pistons 98-86 Tuesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
The first quarter resembled a see-saw, with Portland jumping out to a 9-0 early advantage, only for Detroit to follow with a 13-2 run to take the lead. Wesley Matthews hit a three to re-take the lead, and Chris Kaman did the rest, hitting 4-of-5 for eight points, allowing the Blazers to lead by 11 after one. During the quarter, LaMarcus Aldridge passed Terry Porter for second all-time in Portland Trail Blazers scoring.
The bench continued to be a huge factor in quarter number two with Kaman and Allen Crabbe combining to score 13 in the period. Overall, the Portland bench had 23 points in the first half, easily a season-high. On defense, the team was able to contain most of the Pistons' offense, though Caron Butler and Greg Monroe created havoc down low. Despite that, the Blazers took a nine point lead into halftime.
Robin Lopez got hot in the third quarter, shooting 3-of-3 for six points, and Portland got out in front by as many as 17, but Detroit used strong offensive rebounding and a little help from the guys in white and black to cut into the lead. Aldridge regained his stroke near the end of the quarter, and the Blazers led by 14 after three.
Portland nearly went into full meltdown mode in the fourth, allowing Detroit to cut the lead to four. The defense for the Blazers simply had no answer for Monroe or Butler, who combined to score 16 in the period. When the Blazers needed it most, Aldridge stepped up and hit two quick shots to re-extend the lead. Matthews and Damian Lillard hit threes, and Portland held off Detroit. Lillard scored eight in the fourth to seal the game, and wound up with 14 on the night.
Chris Kaman finished with 14.
[Note from Tim: Dave Deckard's analysis will be delayed tonight, so I'll be covering some basics in the meantime]
If you missed tonight's game, consider yourself lucky. The Detroit Pistons shot poorly for most of the evening (save for part of the fourth quarter), and the Blazers casually took a 17 point lead. But the same bugaboos that have hounded the Blazers all season reappeared: Poor shot selection, lazy passing, defensive lapses and a simple lack of focus. The Pistons took advantage to close the gap to 4, but the result of this game never truly felt in doubt.
As Dave recently noted, one of the biggest surprises of the Blazers season was Aldridge's ascension to the go-to man in the clutch. This continued tonight, as he promptly scored the next four points, and the Blazers were never seriously threatened afterward.
There was no true "Player of the Game" tonight, as different people took lead at various times. However, LaMarcus Aldridge was solid as always despite a poor shooting night (23 points on 21 shots).
Damian Lillard is clearly still struggling with the brace on his fingers, as he simply looks a little not-Damian. However, he rattled in a three-pointer when the Blazers needed it (after four misses), and he still contributed 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
Chris Kaman could make a case for man of the hour. In his homecoming (with many friends and family in attendance), he was a monster off the bench. His 13 points came on 7-10 shooting, and despite only pulling down 3 rebounds, he added 2 assists and 2 steals.
Speaking of hot shooting, Wesley Matthews once again got the job done, shooting 8-12, including 3-6 from three. Add in 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and it's an easy reminder of why he's become indispensable every night.
Nicolas Batum's shooting struggles continued, as it felt like an improvement when he hit 2-6 from three point land. He normally makes up for poor shooting with plenty of intangibles, but he was a bit invisible tonight. He only finished with 5 rebounds and 1 assist.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night
Our guys are so nice. Giving Detroit a bunch of offensive rebounds at the end just to make ’em feel good about themselves.
I think Aldridge's personality has really come out this year. He’s a much better interview, and he’s now clowning on his teammates which he rarely ever did. It’s great to see.
So after annoyingness, we win in double digits.
Another dust up between @rolopez42 and Pistons mascot Hooper ...— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 10, 2014
Kaman said his right wrist was bothering him, then said "Don't know why I said that. I take it back" had 14 pts #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 10, 2014
LaMarcus Aldridge has recorded 10+ rebounds for the ninth straight game, the longest such streak in the NBA this season.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 10, 2014
The Trail Blazers have now defeated the Pistons in four straight games and 10 of the last 12. #PORatDET— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 10, 2014
Portland improves to 10-0 this season against the Eastern Conference (5-0 home, 5-0 road).— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 10, 2014
The Trail Blazers have won 7 straight road games (Nov 12-Dec 9). Portland won a season-best 7 straight road games last year from Nov 1-23.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 10, 2014
Truly blessed. pic.twitter.com/LQSvzXGag8— Lamarcus Aldridge (@aldridge_12) December 10, 2014