The Portland Trail Blazers (4-2) came into its match-up hosting the Detroit Pistons (4-1) riding a three game winning streak Sunday night at the Moda Center.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (26 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds), CJ McCollum (18 points, 4 rebounds), and Meyers Leonard (17 points). The Pistons were led by The Incredible Andre Drummond (29 points, 26 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Reggie Jackson's career-high (40 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists). Drummond is a freak of nature.
Detroit came out of the gates staying true to its reputation of playing inside-out basketball, immediately going to Drummond in the post and operating out of the mid-range. Pistons shooters struggled early, but Drummond corralled four offensive rebounds which each seemed to lead to second-chance points. Lillard continued his torrid play with 11 points in the opening period. He hit a three-pointer early and the floor seemed to open up - Blazers pushed the pace and said a big 'Thank You" to the open space Detroit yielded outside with its bigs locked in the paint. Al-Farouq Aminu finished a nice give-and-go dunk from Miles Plumlee and the offense was in rhythm. Portland's second unit picked up exactly where the starters left off, rolling off 59% shooting for the quarter. Oh, and Plumlee made a free throw.
End of First: Portland 32, Detroit 23
The success of the Blazer bench continued into the second quarter - Allen Crabbe found his stroke early and connected all of his four shots in the first half (and first seven overall), while Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh and Moe Harkless all flashed good energy and defensive tenacity. Pistons continued to settle for outside jumpers but remained ice cold, dipping down to just 34% shooting late in the period. Despite its shooting woes, Detroit was able to stay in the game by seizing second possessions through offensive rebounds and forcing turnovers. Credit be given; Portland's offense held its own very nicely against a heralded Piston D.
Halftime: Portland 57, Detroit 47
Both teams opened the third pounding the ball inside - Drummond manhandled his his way to a couple nice hook shots, and McCollum, Aminu and Plumlee all took turns trying to jump into Drummond (who had three early fouls) to by some grace force the behemoth out of the game. Leonard continued to shoot his way out of an early season slump, connecting on back-to-back threes, a nifty setup to Lillard near the basket and sky-high hook over Drummond. Meyers continues to be a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. After torching Detroit from the field in the first half, Portland shot 78% in the third while Dame and CJ both appeared supremely confident leading the offense. The Blazers' 92 points is a high for the season so far.
There was one scary moment, however, when Lillard appeared to roll his ankle and looked to be in pain. He did manage to stay in the game and returned later in the fourth.
End of Third: Portland 92, Detroit 79
Portland's pace was just too bullish and Detroit's defense too rigid to not expect the Pistons to make a comeback. The Blazer's hot shooting turned into forced looks and sloppy turnovers, while the away team scrapped its way back to within four less than halfway through the period. An awkward moment occurred when Davis was inadvertently stuck in the face during a layup attempt by Marcus Morris, and was promptly ejected after receiving two quick technical fouls. Detroit continued the tough play, being called for a flagrant foul after roughing up Miles Plumlee (Video here). Drummond was a beast, single-handedly controlling the paint. His putback dunk with six minutes remaining pulled Detroit within two and Jackson's running layup gave them the lead two possession's later. Portland's offense came to a screeching halt and found no success prying into Drummond's real estate. Jackson caught fire and put the Blazers away. Portland tried its hand at Hack-a-Drummond, but at this point had only scored five points in the fourth and looked completely stuck on both sides of the ball.
Portland will complete the second leg of a back-to-back tomorrow when they pay a visit to the Denver Nuggets - tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.
-- Ryan Rosback | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter