After dropping two-straight to the two top teams in the West, the Trail Blazers caught fire from three early against the Detroit Pistons Saturday.
The game started with both teams committing unforced turnovers, but once Portland’s offense started clicking midway through the first quarter, the Blazers looked to be in cruise control.
Yet, the young Pistons squad had other plans in the second quarter.
At the break, the Blazers led 59-50.
It wasn’t until Damian Lillard took over in the third quarter with 13 points in the quarter, which ensured the Blazers’ 118-103 victory.
The Blazers led 95-76 heading into the final period.
With the win, the Blazers improve to 16-10 at home.
Portland led 33-23 at the end of the first quarter after hitting six of their first 10 attempted three-pointers.
Detroit gave up plenty of good looks from behind the arc and at the rim. And Portland took advantage.
Frustrations mounted for the Blazers and Damian Lillard early in the second quarter after there were a few no-calls. Lillard showed his frustration in talking with the officials, explaining how he thought either he or his teammates had been fouled. He also showed his frustrations through plays like this:
Detroit, even in rebuild mode, did not roll over. Saddiq Bey led the Pistons at halftime with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while Frank Jackson showed off his crafty moves off the bench, notching 11 points in the first half. Jackson finished with 17, while Bey added 14.
The Pistons were without their leading scorer Jerami Grant due to right knee soreness.
With the loss, Detroit falls to 16-37 on the season.
With Jusuf Nurkic sitting out of Saturday’s contest due to “injury management and knee inflammation," head coach Terry Stotts mentioned pregame that “he should play tomorrow” against the Miami Heat and Saturday was a precautionary move.
But the Blazers have the luxury of inserting Enes Kanter into the starting lineup when Nurkic is out and it proved to be a big piece of the win Saturday.
With his solid screens and dominance on the glass at the offensive end, Kanter and Damian Lillard also worked a strong two-man game. Kanter also showed off his playmaking ability.
The Trail Blazers big man finished with 24 points and a franchise record 30 rebounds. Sidney Wicks held the record for the most rebounds in a game in team history, with 27 boards against the Lakers back on February 26, 1975.
The Blazers were able to convert from three when given any daylight Saturday. Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony led the way from deep.
Early in the second quarter, the Blazers went with a small lineup that included six-year veteran forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
It was the first time the 10-day contract player saw the floor as a Portland Trail Blazer. Portland's defense was not on the same page with Hollis-Jefferson, Carmelo Anthony and Robert Covington in the frontcourt in the second quarter. Hollis-Jefferson has yet to practice with the Blazers after officially signing with Portland Thursday.
With Hollis-Jefferson earning six minutes on the night, that meant third-year player Anfernee Simons did not play.
After outscoring the Pistons by 10 in the first quarter, Detroit outscored Portland 27-26 in the second quarter. The Blazers gave up 13 fastbreak points in the first half.
Even though it was evident inside Moda Center that the Blazers were communicating often on the defensive end, the Blazers were still a step slow on many of their rotations.
The cut and the reverse by CJ McCollum was nice in the first half:
Enes Kanter notched 16 of Portland’s 25 first half rebounds.
Next up: The Trail Blazers will host the Miami Heat Sunday in the second night of a back-to-back. The Blazers and Heat will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.