Detroit Pistons

Pistons wear down Blazers after a "brutal" first quarter

Pistons wear down Blazers after a "brutal" first quarter

DETROIT – Well, let’s start off by saying basketball can be played much better than it was Saturday night between the Detroit Pistons and Portland Trail Blazers. But it couldn’t be played much worse, particularly in the first quarter.

The Trail Blazers, playing without Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum, of course, were certainly due what happened to them in a 99-90 loss to the Pistons. It was the second of back-to-back road games and third of a four-game road trip. And on this night, both the injured starters were missed.

Damian Lillard's shoulders are only so broad.

And even though Detroit played without injured Blake Griffin, the Pistons were a bit too physical for the Trail Blazers.

But let’s start at the beginning – the first quarter – when the Pistons missed their first 13 shots, made just two of their first 20 and missed all seven of their three-pointers.

The Trail Blazers ended that quarter with just a 14-11 lead. Talk about not being able to take advantage of a golden opportunity.

“That was a rough game,” Coach Terry Stotts said, in a mild understatement. “The first quarter was brutal. Neither team really had it going. We had a lot of opportunities in the first quarter to have a bigger lead than we did. We weren’t able to take advantage of it.

“After that, we just struggled offensively. We didn’t have a lot of rhythm. Give Detroit credit – they were really aggressive, defensively. They showed a crowd in the paint. We took the ball to the paint a lot and didn’t shoot a lot of free throws.”

Lillard, who has been carrying an enormous load on his shoulders with Nurkic and McCollum out, played 35:35 minutes and hit eight of his 25 shots. He was 3-for-8 from distance but was foiled on many of his drives to the basket by the physical play of the Pistons, who jostled him around all night at the basket and on pick-and-rolls.

“It was a crazy game, honestly,” said Evan Turner. “It was just wild, in general. Taking 67 shots in the paint and only getting four free throws from that … you feel me?”

Lillard was battered all night and went to the line only four times.

“It was a junked-up game,” Lillard said, “Physical. We didn’t shoot the ball well. I thought, defensively, we were pretty good. We just lost.

“It’s tough. With a lot of misses, it means you’re going back and forth – and it’s physical. But when you’re not making shots, you have to get stops and try to get to the line.

“We weren’t able to do that at all tonight (and then he rolled his eyes in frustration).”

Make no mistake, even though Lillard has been churning out high-quality games night after night, this has been tough on him. He’s got this team on his back.

The Pistons sold out on Lillard on the pick-and-roll, pushing it out further and not worrying so much about Kanter being able to make the next pass to a cutter the way Nurkic did.

“When you are allowed to do certain things, whether it’s legal or illegal, it’s going to make the game harder for any offensive player,” Lillard said. “Especially when they’re having that kind of attention on the ball.”

Kanter played well at the basket, hitting 9-of-17 with 15 rebounds, two steals and 20 points.

But the Blazers ended up shooting just 19 percent from three, with 17 turnovers. And after a 3-for-21 first quarter, the Pistons made 34-of-65 the rest of the game.

Portland meets the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis Monday night to conclude the road trip.

Center of attention: Enes Kanter vs. Andre Drummond

usatsi_12447610.jpg
USA Today Images

Center of attention: Enes Kanter vs. Andre Drummond

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.

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.   

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Detroit Pistons

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Detroit Pistons

An extremely late scratch, an extremely rough shooting night, and an extremely close game until the fourth quarter – that pretty much sums up Saturday’s Trail Blazers and Pistons game.

Before Saturday’s game, the focus was on the Blazers defensive attack against the Pistons twin towers of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, but that all changed just minutes before tip-off.

The Blazers and Pistons were close throughout, but in the end Detroit was too much for Portland in the Blazers' second night of a back-to-back. The Pistons defeated the Blazers 99-90 in Detroit.

Portland is now 4-7 in the second game of back-to-back situations this season.

Final Box Score: Pistons 99, Trail Blazers 90

 

Here are some quick thoughts as the Blazers’ six-game winning streak is snapped:

1. Griffin a late scratch

The Pistons announced right before tip-off that Blake Griffin would not be playing on Saturday night due to a sore left knee. Thon Maker got the start in place of Griffin.

Detroit struggled to score in the first half without their big man, who is averaging 24.7 points this season.

With no Griffin, all eyes were on Blazers center Enes Kanter and Pistons center Andre Drummond. The key matchup down low was the most interesting part of the game. In Kanter’s third straight start in place of the injured Jusuf Nurkic (left leg), he had an efficient night where it was not a good shooting night as a whole for either team.

The Blazers center notched a double-double midway through the second quarter. For the game, he shot 9-of-17 from the field for 20 points to go along with 15 rebounds.

As for Drummond, he was gobbling up rebounds all night, per usual. But, it was his late offensive heroics that kept the Pistons in the game and helped them secure the victory.

2. Low scoring affair

The first quarter was one of the worst offensive quarters most NBA fans have seen as of late. The Pistons started the game 0-for-13 from the field and made just three field goals for the quarter.

Just three field goals!

The Blazers went 7-of-27 in the first quarter and had a 14-11 lead. Luckily, the shooting picked up by both teams, but not by much.

3. Fatigue a factor?

There were plenty of Blazers shots that fell just short in the final quarter. It was game No. 75 and the second night of a back-to-back for the Blazers and it showed, particularly in the fourth.  

The players would never make an excuse that they were tired, but it was really one of those games where the Blazers looked sluggish and could not knock down wide-open shots.

When Damian Lillard shoots 8-of-25, that’s when you know it was an awful shooting night for Portland.

This is a game where you just want to forget it and move onto the next one.

NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night with a 5:00pm PT start time. Our pregame coverage tips off at 4:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons: How and Where to Watch

usatsi_10716238.jpg
USA Today Images

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons: How and Where to Watch

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

 

GAME DETAILS

Where to Watch: NBC Sports Northwest

Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App

Tip-Off Time: 4:00 p.m. 

Point spread: Detroit -6

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (3:00 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the game). 

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio

 

INJURY UPDATES

Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and CJ McCollum (left knee) are out for Saturday’s game at Detroit.


The Pistons have no injuries to report for Saturday.

 

QUICK LINKS

Dwight Jaynes: Kanter is picking and the Trail Blazers are rolling to another win

Jamie Hudson: Al-Farouq Aminu posts double-double in homecoming win over Hawks

VIDEO: Highlights: Dame Time strikes in ATL with a 118-98 win

VIDEO: Blazers rely on defense to grab the victory in Atlanta

 

Download the brand new MyTeams app today - This is the app for everything Blazers: games, highlights, articles, podcasts and more from your NBC Sports Northwest Blazers team.

Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard overwhelm Pistons down the stretch

Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard overwhelm Pistons down the stretch

The Detroit Pistons had won seven of their last 10 games and brought their “A-Game” to Moda Center Saturday night.

But the Trail Blazers countered with an “A-plus Game” and finished off the Pistons with a flourish in the final two minutes to win 117-112.

Damian Lillard led the Portland parade, as usual, with his passing and his shooting. He finished with 28 points – hitting 9-16 from the floor, including 6-10 from three-point territory – to go with nine assists and six rebounds.

And down the stretch he was dictating the game, chapter and verse. But make no mistake, he had a lot of help on this night – the Trail Blazers got winning performances from just about everyone who played.

Portland trailed 109-103 with four and a half minutes to play but held the Pistons scoreless for the next four minutes.

Lillard hit Maurice Harkless knifing through the lane for a layup. He found Jusuf Nurkic for another layup and the game was tied with 1:58 to go.

Then, with the score tied, Nurkic made a terrific block on an Andre Drummond layup. Seth Curry found Lillard in the front court and Lillard nailed a 28-foot jumper to push his team into the lead, was fouled, and made the free throw.

It was downhill from there. Harkless passed to Nurkic for a dunk and then Al-Farouq Aminu jumped on a missed Lillard shot and banked in a basket with 4.1 seconds to go that provided the final margin.

It was a terrific outing for the Trail Blazers, who shot .544 from the field, .423 from three and outrebounded the bruising Pistons 42-29.

“A gutty and gritty win,” Terry Stotts said. “Basically we held them scoreless the last four and a half minutes. We made a lot of good defensive plays, big shots.”

You can find contributions everywhere:

  • Harkless had 10 points, four assists and some big defensive plays.
  • Aminu had a season-high 22 points, a lot of hustle plays and a solid defensive job on Blake Griffin.
  • Nurkic had 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
  • Enes Kanter mixed it up inside with Drummond and came away with 10 points and seven rebounds.
  • Zach Collins had his usual quota of energy plays, as well as 4-6 from the field, four boards, a block and nine points.
  • Seth Curry was 5-9, had 16 points and five rebounds.

It was quite a night for the home team, whose interior passing was a thing of beauty.

“When guys draw double-teams or guys just drive and somebody steps up, we’ve done a good job of finding the open man,” Harkless said.

Lillard probably had four or five “hockey assists,” where his pass led to the pass that resulted in the score. And that’s indicative of how well the Trail Blazers moved the ball around.

“Those are the plays you have to make in order to take advantage of what they were trying to do,” Lillard said. “I’m not always going to be the guy getting the assist when they’re out so high on me. Can the guy I pass the ball out to, make the next play? We had guys doing that.

“That’s what I mean when I say we’re making the right plays. The ball is going where it’s supposed to go. When it does that, you take advantage of what the other team is trying to do. Tonight we did a great job of that.

“We’ve been playing the style of play we want to play,” Lillard said. “And we can sustain that.”

Pistons Coach Dwane Casey, who has done an outstanding job with his team, loaded up against Lillard.

"You're not going to stop everything," he said. "They're one of the top offensive teams in the league. And we made a decision that we were going to try to keep the ball as much as possible out of Lillard's hands. And again, you take away one thing, you're going to open up something else."

The Blazers play host to the Brooklyn Nets Monday night before heading out on a four-game trip to Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit and Minnesota.

Confidence is high with Al-Farouq Aminu's ball handling... and it's showing

Confidence is high with Al-Farouq Aminu's ball handling... and it's showing

The seconds are ticking off the clock.

It’s a three-point game.

Damian Lillard’s tough floater gets blocked.

Al-Farouq Aminu snags the offensive rebound and puts in a 9-foot bank shot.

Four seconds remaining on the clock when the Pistons call a timeout.

It was a crazy finish on Saturday night in Portland. It’s Aminu who seals the deal in a Trail Blazers gritty win over the Pistons by a final score of 117-112.

“I knew the shot clock was low, so I just wanted to get it off the glass. I didn’t want to rush it. Sometimes when you’re in that predicament you rush it because you’re thinking you’re going against the clock and I figured, let me at least make it and see if it was late or not,” Aminu said with a smile.  

Portland continues to play without CJ McCollum (left knee) and continues to rack up wins from a collective effort with role players continuing to step up.

Saturday night was Aminu’s night.  

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said postgame he was pleased with Chief’s “heads up playmaking,” which is a perfect way to describe that last Trail Blazers possession.

Aminu finished with a season-high 22 points and has now reached double figured for the second time in the last three games. His previous high was 20 points, which he had reached twice this season.

Is there a variable to Aminu’s game that people aren’t talking about when it comes to him getting more buckets?

How about his ball handling skills?

Coach Stotts has no doubt that this is one aspect of Chief’s game that has changed this year.

“I think it’s pretty obvious -- his ball handling has really improved this year. He’s made some nice drives throughout the season. He put a lot of time into it. He’s making some nice moves, whether it’s in transition or in the half court. I think he’s being aggressive when he has a chance,” Stotts said.

As Lillard shouldered the scoring load once again, leading the Blazers with 28 points and nine assists, he couldn’t agree more with his coach when it comes to Aminu’s improved dribbling.

“A lot better,” Lillard said of the difference he has seen of Aminu’s ball handling from this year to years past. “Sometimes when he catches it and they close the gap where he can’t get a shot off, he’s putting it on the floor and making plays to the rim. You know, sometimes in transition, he’s bringing the ball up and we’re getting a quality possession out of it, so it’s not like guys gotta chase the ball down and try to go get the ball or when he doesn’t have a shot, we’ve got to rush to get the ball,” Lillard added.   

Lillard also believes the mental part of Aminu’s game has helped too.

“When your mind is in the right place and you’re doing all these things, doing whatever you can for the team-- good things happen and he was on the good side of things, just because he was in it. He was in it mentally and it worked out. He was huge for us. He pretty much made all the big plays for us,” Lillard added.

Having your coach and teammates confident in you is always a helpful, but Aminu also trusts himself to it bring the ball up the court or drive hard to the rack.   

“It’s a thing that when you’re in the game and you notice that you’re not losing the ball… Obviously, you’re going to go to it more. The confidence comes from doing it… Just glad that it’s working,” Aminu said.

Being able to score a season-high after exerting so much energy on the defensive end with the difficult task of defending Blake Griffin also was noted postgame.

Maurice Harkless, who scored in double digits for the fourth straight game with 10 points, gave props to Aminu and how valuable he was on both ends of the floor. 

“He made a lot of big shots, especially down the stretch. He played really good defense on Blake and when we got switches he played good defense on the guards too, so he was huge for us. That last rebound and putback was big time too. It kind of sealed the game,” Harkless said.

Aminu had his good luck charm in the front row too. Maybe having your wife sit baseline can help boost the confidence as well.

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Detroit Pistons

usatsi_12406747.jpg
USA Today Images

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Detroit Pistons

The Trail Blazers entered Saturday’s game having won five of their last six games and two straight at Moda Center.

Saturday’s game marked the first of two meetings between Portland and Detroit this season.

It was a high scoring affair with both teams hot from three. The Trail Blazers pulled out a win in the final minutes, defeating the Pistons117-112.  

Portland now improves to 45-27 overall. These two will face each other next Saturday in Detroit.  

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 117, Pistons 112 

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers fourth straight home victory:

1.Jackson got to the hoop, knocked down 3s

When facing this Pistons team much of the focus goes to their bigs Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. With the Blazers switching defense in the first quarter, Jusuf Nurkic, Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless didn’t let Griffin or Drummond get much on offense. Drummond struggled on offense all night.

But to start the game, Reggie Jackson had an efficient first quarter going 3-of-4 from the field and a perfect 2-for-2 from three to finish with 10 points in the first 12 minutes of play.

Jackson was able to break free on the perimeter with the Pistons twin towers commanding so much attention.  He then had his way with Portland in the second half off the dribble, easily getting to the rim. He looked a step ahead of the Blazers for most of the night. Plus, Griffin got it going with his aggressive moves to the basket. Between the two of them and the Pistons three-pointers, Detroit made it close throughout.

2. That extra effort

You hear that a guy is a spark plug off the bench all the time. On Saturday, that is exactly what Zach Collins was for the Blazers. He fought down low to gobble up offensive rebounds and had a couple of nice putbacks that helped keep the Blazers in the game in the first half and kept the crowd involved.

3.  A different-looking Lillard Time?

As the Blazers continue to play without CJ McCollum (left knee), Damian Lillard carries the scoring load. Lillard was dialed in from deep. He made his first four three-pointers. Late in the fourth quarter, it was all about distributing for Lillard and that made the difference in the game. And of course, there was the Lillard Time three-pointer to give Porltand the lead with 1:37 to go, but hey, it was his passing that got them back in the game.

 

NEXT UP: Portland concludes its four-game homestand on Monday night when the Blazers host the Brooklyn Nets at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest. Our pregame coverage tips off at 6:00pm. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Detroit Pistons

usatsi_10395800.jpg
USA Today Images

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Detroit Pistons

Tonight marks the first of two meetings between Portland and Detroit this season. They will see each other twice over the next week.

Before tonight’s game, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Pistons head coach Dwane Casey spoke with the media to talk key matchups and more.

Blazers Injury Update: CJ McCollum (left knee) is out for Saturday’s game vs. Detroit.

McCollum is scheduled to be re-evaluated by Monday, but Coach Stotts said McCollum is getting evaluated daily as he goes through rehab with the Blazers training staff.

Coach Stotts also addressed the issues that come with defending Blake Griffin:

“Griffin is a handful. The ball is in his hands a lot. He’s a facilitator, he’s a scorer, he’s a rebounder, he can get out in transition, a lot of what they do goes through him,” Stotts said.

Stotts was also asked if he or his team ever take the Trail Blazers fan base for granted.

Stotts was quick to answer:  

“I never lose sight of how good the fans are here… It’s a great basketball environment.”

Hear from Coach Stotts right here:

The Pistons reported no injuries for this game.

Coach Casey discussed how tonight his team’s defense is going to be the key to getting a win in Portland. Casey also gave a lot of praise to the Trail Blazers fans at Moda Center, saying, “Their fans are some of the best in the league.”

Hear from Coach Casey right here:

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons: How and Where to Watch

usatsi_10716237.jpg
USA Today Images

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons: How and Where to Watch

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.


GAME DETAILS

Where to Watch: NBC Sports Northwest

Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App

Tip-Off Time: 7:00 p.m. 

Point spread: Portland -5

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (3:00 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the game). 

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio

 

INJURY UPDATES

The Trail Blazers have listed CJ McCollum (left knee) is out for Saturday’s game vs. Detroit.

The Pistons have no injuries to report.

 

QUICK LINKS

Dwight Jaynes: Damian Lillard goes old-school point guard again in Portland win

Jamie Hudson: Scoop Podcast with Enes Kanter: Jersey Shore, ketchup everything, draft night and more

VIDEO: The clock struck Dame Time on Wednesday against Mavs

VIDEO: Collins playing lights out, making an impact for Blazers
 

Download the brand new MyTeams app today - This is the app for everything Blazers: games, highlights, articles, podcasts and more from your NBC Sports Northwest Blazers team.

Blazers run out of gas in the Motor City

usatsi_10589309.jpg
USA Today

Blazers run out of gas in the Motor City

It was another tough night on the road for the Trail Blazers, as they fell to the Detroit Pistons on Monday, 111-91. Is was the second night of a back-to-back for the Blazers, and it looked like fatigue caught up to them. For the Blazers, they head back home limping after going 0-3 on this road trip. For the Pistons, they have now won four in a row and are undefeated since acquiring Blake Griffin from the Clippers.

Final Score in Detroit: Piston 111 – Blazers 91