In what seemed destined to be a statement win for the Detroit Pistons over the Western Conference leading Blazers, ended up turning into a devastating loss at the Palace on a snowy Sunday night. Lead by a late Blazer surge, Damian Lillard scored 8 of his teams final 12 points of the game, including the game winning jumper in overtime.
Detroit came out the gate with a sense of urgency, behind the strong all-around game by Piston forward Josh Smith, who scored 8 points in the opening period. Detroit would take an early 16-12 lead on the Blazers, as Portland looked a bit sluggish out of the gate as they played the tail end of a back-to-back Sunday evening.
After the first break in the action halfway through the first, the Blazers seemed reenergized and focused on the task at hand, unfortunately that was the Pistons. Portland, behind the play of their All-Star caliber big man LaMarcus Aldridge (9 points in first), finished the first quarter on a 17-6 run, giving them a 29-22 lead after one.
Detroit would counter with a run of their own in the second quarter. After finding themselves trailing by as many as 11 in the second, Detroit countered Portland’s run with a 20-2 spurt of their own. taking a one point advantage into the break, 51-50. Josh Smith led all scorers with 18 points in the first half, not to mention his 6 rebounds as well, but the Detroit was not done there.
The Pistons added to their one point advantage with some more of the same from forward Josh Smith. Smith, was murder for the Blazers in the post all night. Didn’t matter who was guarding him, whether it was Nicholas Batum or Wesley Mathews. Behind the strong play of the Detroit front court, the Pistons pushed their lead to double figures heading into the final period of play, 84-73. Of those 84 Piston points, Detroit muscled their way to 54 points in the paint after three-quarters.
Detroit, a team who has struggled to close out opponents, once again fell into their bad habits. The Blazers came out of the third quarter with a sense of urgency. Portland held the Pistons to just 15 fourth quarter points, allowing the Blazers back into the contest with little ball/people movement on the offensive end for Detroit. It was seemingly a Jennings-Drummond pick and roll every time down the court from 6 minutes in till the final buzzer to end regulation.
Portland would finish regulation scoring their last 4 points at the charity stripe, as Detroit was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer tied at 99 headed to OT. This is where point guard sensation Damian Lillard shined for the Trailblazers, scoring 8 of his 23 points in the overtime session. As the Blazers lead wire-to-wire in OT, the Pistons had a chance to tie the game with 27 seconds left, trailing 109-107.
Out of the timeout, the Pistons ran a Rodney Stuckey Isolation leading to a crossover at the top of the key to free Stuckey up for the 18 footer. the shot was in and out, and then back in again off the high glass to tie up the game.
Portland, with one last chance, gave the ball to their point man Damian Lillard to take them home. Damian was freed up by a high pick set by LaMarcus Aldridge. After the screen freed Lillard for a split second, Rodney Stuckey was able to cut off penetration to the basket by moving his feet. With all options lost, Damian heaved a 10-foot fade away jumper off one foot that rattled home with just a split second to spare, sinking the Pistons for good.
Detroit now drops to (11-14) heading into Conseco Fieldhouse, home of the NBA’s best record, the Indiana Pacers (20-3). The Pistons lost their last meeting against Indiana at the Palace at the start of the season 99-91, they will look to somehow bounce back against the Pacers on Monday night.
Topics: Andre Drummond, Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Damian Lillard, Detroit Pistons, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Singler, LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers, Rodney Stuckey