Portland Trail Blazers 112, Detroit Pistons 101
Well, I’m still confident they’re not tanking.
A late 10-0 run had the Pistons in striking range of snapping their 7-game losing streak on the road against Portland, but ultimately it wasn’t quite enough to come away with the win.
As it usually goes with the Blazers, the starters did most of the damage, and they were led by LaMarcus Aldridge’s 31 points and 12 boards. The Portland commentators had double-doubles on the brain for most of the game, as Aldridge and teammate JJ Hickson (18 points, 15 boards) reached the mostly meaningless milestone, and rookie point guard Damian Lillard flirted with one (14 points, 7 assists) despite shooting only 3-of-12 from the field for the night. It was enough to earn a rare muting at points from your’s truly.
If there was anything to like from the young Pistons tonight it’s that the effort was still very much evident. They came out of the gate strong en route to a 57-52 halftime lead, but the offensive momentum just didn’t quite hold. Similarly to their previous game against Golden State, the Pistons’ halftime lead evaporated quickly, as the Blazers were able to tie it up with 10:12 and trailed for less than two minutes the rest of the game. It was a continuation of a disturbing – if not altogether surprising – trend for Detroit, who has struggled to close out games, posting only a 2-37 record in games when they trail headed into the fourth quarter.
In short, it seems to me like this team is still trying extremely hard to win games. The problem is they’re just not very good. Tonight’s game did feature notable performances from Rodney Stuckey (a season-high 31 points) and Will Bynum (23 points on 10-of-14 shooting), as well as a solid (if unspectacular) all-around performance by Greg Monroe (14 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists), but the rest of the supporting cast largely failed to deliver. The good news is nobody was particularly bad enough for me to make fun of (although Charlie Villanueva did have three turnovers in six minutes, because of course he did).
Ultimately, the most disappointing aspect of tonight’s game was the failure to win a revenge game against former Life on Dumars editor (and current #trader) Cole Patty’s new team. As Kobe Bryant would say, it’s a shame they now have to wait a year to get their payback. Maybe next time, Cole. Maybe next time.
For now, the Pistons’ next two chances to snap their losing streak will come at home against the Nets and on the road against Miami, so expect them to head into Charlotte next Saturday losers of ten in a row. Considering the team’s last three wins came against the Bobcats and twice against the Wizards, that’s probably the exact matchup they need.