In just his third straight start in place of the injured Jusuf Nurkic, Enes Kanter had an efficient night from the field.
And really, he was one of the only Trail Blazers to get it going on offense and have a positive impact for most of the night.
With Blake Griffin out against the Trail Blazers due to soreness in his left knee, a lot of the focus shifted to the center battle on Saturday night in Detroit.
The matchup up between Kanter and Andre Drummond did not disappoint. In the end though, it was Drummond and the Pistons who came out on top, 99-90, but the two centers were the more effective players on their respective teams.
Kanter had already notched a double-double by the midway mark of the second quarter. For the game, Kanter shot 9-of-17 from the field for 20 points to go along with 15 rebounds.
“[Enes] played great, all over the boards on both ends. I don’t know how many offensive rebounds he got but he was attacking the glass, he was getting into the paint, making lay-ups. He did what he does,” Maurice Harkless told reporters postgame.
Of Kanter’s 15 rebounds, seven of those were offensive.
Kanter disgards Drummond for the offensive putback pic.twitter.com/38i6WjoZl0— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) March 30, 2019
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts gave credit to Kanter, but he also gave credit to the Pistons defense for the low scoring affair.
“We struggled offensively, didn’t have a lot of rhythm. I thought Enes did a fantastic job of doing a lot of the dirty work and keeping us in it, but give Detroit credit, they were really aggressive defensively,” Stotts said.
As Coach Stotts put it, “the first quarter was brutal.” The Pistons started the game 0-for-13 from the field and made just three field goals for the quarter. It wasn’t much better for the Blazers. Portland shot 7-of-27 in the first quarter and held a 14-11 lead after the first 12 minutes.
When Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard finishes 8-of-25 from the field and struggles to reach his 23 points on the night, that’s when you know it was one of those bad shooting nights.
But to Kanter, he felt the Blazers had an overall good night on the other end of the floor.
“I think we had a pretty good defensive game. I think the problem was offense. We didn’t make any shots… We just need to finish the fourth quarter,” Kanter said.
With a tough shooting night, particularly on the perimeter, Kanter was the one consistent down low.
“We were kind of searching for points,” Stotts said.
As for Drummond, he was gobbling up rebounds all night and it was his late offensive heroics that kept the Pistons in the game and helped them secure the victory.
Drummond recorded 22 points, 19 rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
Kanter described what it is like playing against Drummond the entire night, saying:
“Strong guy, obviously he’s a pretty good rebounder, I didn’t see how many defensive rebounds he got, but I think the first half we did a pretty good job on him. The second half he got it going.”
Portland was outscored by 12 points in the second half and Harkless knows that wth the Blazers focusing on positioning in the Western Conference standings, games like Saturday are a missed opportunity.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to win a game like this… Games like this, we’ve got to grind it out,” Harkless said.