The Trail Blazers’ six-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of the Pistons on Saturday. Each team struggled on offense for extended periods, which resulted in both squads scoring under 40 points apiece in the first half. With Blake Griffin scratched from the lineup, Andre Drummond’s dominant play in the post eventually helped shift the scoreline in Detroit’s favor. The big fella bludgeoned the Blazers for 22 points and 19 rebounds, leading to a 99-90 victory for the Pistons.
Portland’s offense was off throughout the game. After facing lottery-bound opponents earlier in the week, the Blazers got a dose of post-Nurkic reality against a playoff team. Coach Terry Stotts’ squad looked like a team that was down two starters playing on the second night of a back-to-back. To make matters worse, Damian Lillard was mortal on offense. Lillard’s efforts in the second half salvaged his point total (23), but he only connected on eight of his 25 attempts from the field.
Yikes. That Was Ugly
Neither team could get into a rhythm in the first half. Outside of a single three-pointer from Seth Curry, both sides combined for 21 misses from beyond the arc. For the Pistons, Reggie Jackson and Wayne Ellington were content with questionable attempts early in the shot clock. Unfortunately for the Blazers, they were unable to capitalize on the Pistons’ terrible shooting. Instead, the only thing that was working for Portland was Enes Kanter’s work in the post. Kanter netted eight of Portland’s 14 first-quarter points—all of which came inside the paint.
Due to the Blazers’ inability to avoid self-inflicted mistakes, the Pistons’ entered the locker room at halftime down by only three after shooting an abysmal 27.9 percent from the field.
Detroit Comes Alive
The Pistons effectively re-grouped at halftime to come out firing in the third quarter. Instead of settling for contested shots on offense, both Jackson and Drummond went to work off pick-and-roll sets. When Detroit wasn’t operating in their half-court offense, they were racking up points off Portland’s turnovers. The dragging pace of the first half transformed into a track meet—allowing the Pistons to surpass their first-half output in a single quarter.
The fast pace of play compounded the fatigue issues that Portland was already facing. Tired legs and poor communication opened the door for even more turnovers. Once behind, the Blazers’ normally dependable three-point shooting never arrived. They finished the night going 4-21 from distance and committed 17 turnovers.
Kanter carried the Blazers’ offense for extended stretches, but his defense was once again exposed. When the Pistons weren’t running in the open court—they were feeding Drummond inside. In the end, Kanter finished with a solid double-double. He recorded 20 points and 15 rebounds in 34 minutes of action.
Maurice Harkless made the most of Saturday’s ugly contest. He found favorable looks in transition and fought to corral rebounds against bigger opponents. It was a bad night for the Blazers, but a good outing for Harkless. He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks.
It was a rough contest for one of Portland’s newest cast members. Rodney Hood failed to connect on a handful of open looks and never looked comfortable on the offensive end. He finished with seven points after going 3-11 from the field.
After consecutive double-digit scoring nights, Al-Farouq Aminu crashed back to reality with a 0-9 performance from the field. For the first time since November, Aminu failed to record a single point.
The Blazers return to action on Monday against the Timberwolves.