The Trail Blazers ended a three-game slide with a 107-104 victory over the Pistons on Sunday. Buoyed by a 41-pout outburst from CJ McCollum, coach Terry Stotts’ squad outlasted the re-tooled Pistons for a much-needed victory. Aside from McCollum, Carmelo Anthony recorded his first 30-point performance of the season.
Here are three key points from the Blazers’ win over the Pistons.
Tale of Two Arizas
Trevor Ariza has effectively filled the shoes that were vacated by Al-Farouq Aminu. From the opening whistle, Ariza undertook the toughest defensive assignments. Tonight, the former Kings forward held Derrick Rose to a 6-for-16 night from the field. Ariza, like Aminu, is capable of covering up team-wide mistakes on the defensive end.
Offensively, Ariza struggled to find his rhythm. In transition, he pressed too hard, leading to turnovers and contested attempts. Inside Portland’s half-court offense, Ariza failed to find pockets of open space for favorable looks.
Ariza finished with two points, two steals and four rebounds.
First Quarter Run, Second Quarter Sadness
The Blazers, fueled by superb shooting from McCollum, pulled off a 14-0 run to build a solid double-digit lead in the first quarter. Unfortunately, Portland surrendered that lead in the second quarter. Like most of the season, the Blazers enjoyed sequences of unimpeded scoring chances that were countered by equally impactful defensive lapses. Throughout the night, Christian Wood feasted on opportunities created by the Blazers’ sloppy defense.
Despite a seemingly endless series of hot-and-cold possessions, the Blazers’ feature players did enough to outlast the Pistons. Hassan Whiteside, who finished with four blocks, provided just enough rim protection in the final two minutes. On top of Whiteside’s output, McCollum exploited individual matchups and Melo kept the lanes open with his outside shooting.
The prospective heat coming off the Blazers’ favorable stretch-run schedule is cooled by the obvious injury issues they face. Sunday’s game, regardless of the victory, was a perfect example of the uphill battle Portland faces in the Western Conference’s postseason race. When the Pistons avoided collapse early in the game by leaning on their bench—a unit filled with veterans. In the first quarter, John Henson and Brandon Knight kept Detroit within striking distance with seasoned, veteran contributions.
Led by Wood’s 26 points, the Pistons’ bench outscored the Blazers’ reserves by 60 points. On the positive side, Wenyen Gabriel picked up just two fouls in his 13-minute audition at backup center.
The Blazer host the Celtics in the Moda Center on Tuesday.