Live from the Moda Center, as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Detroit Pistons.
The Blazers come in riding a two game winning streak. Funny what playing the Kings back to back can do for a team. While Portland was able to come away with two easy victories on Friday and Saturday, DeMarcus Cousins shredded them inside to the tune of sixty-eight points between the two contests. Defending bigs has been a bit of a problem for the Blazers in this early stretch of the season, and teams don’t get much bigger than the Pistons.
With the addition of Josh Smith this offseason, Detroit now boasts a ridiculous frontcourt of Smith, Andre Drummond, and Greg Monroe. Smallball what? The Pistons are bucking current league wide trends and opting to play as big as possible, and for good reason. Good luck trying to score against that frontline.
Thankfully, what the Pistons have in size they lack in shot selection. Need a fun drinking game? Take a drink after every ill-advised Josh Smith jumper. You’ll be checking yourself into rehab by the time the second half rolls around.
For comparisons sake, the Blazers and Pistons are neck and neck in three-point attempt rate, both clocking in with around 27% of their field goal attempts coming from distance. The Blazers are converting near the top of the league, hitting over 41% of said threes. The Pistons are woefully worse, shooting under 30% from distance. No team is shooting as often and as poorly as the Pistons are from the outside.
So, yeah, spacing is an issue with this team. With Brandon Jennings (a career 35% three point-shooter), Josh Smith, and
Bernie Lomax Chauncey Billups providing the perimeter shooting, there is no real outside threat to open up interior lanes for the big men to go to work. Portland should be able to clog the lane on defense and focus on stopping the Detroit bigs. “Should” being the operative word, as nothing is guaranteed with this Blazers defense. Mr. Jennette McCurdy could go off for forty and it wouldn’t be surprising.
And, oh man! Rasheed Wallace is in the house! One of my favorite players ever somehow managed to talk his way into a coaching gig, and the world is a far far better place because of it. More Sheed, more peace. I hope he throws a towel in somebody's face just for old times sake. Looking at you, Jerebko!
10:50 - A missed three for Detroit, a made three for Portland. Get ready to hear that a lot. 3-0 Blazers.
9:18 - After shooting an abysmal 1-15 on Saturday night, Damian Lillard hit his first two shots, both threes, on the night. You knew that cold slump wasn't going to last long. Portland is cooking from distance. 9-2 Blazers.
7:20 - The three ball is falling for Portland. Four of their first five shots are from deep, and they've opened this one up early. Shooting eighty percent from three is totally sustainable, right? 14-7 Blazers.
5:54 - Brandon Jennings like to shoot. Somehow he has already managed to jack up four shots, only hitting one. That does not seem like a winning strategy. He's almost better off rifling it into the third row like he did a few possessions ago. That lady in section 111 seems like she can ball. 18-11 Blazers.
4:07 - Josh Smith three! Drink! 20-19 Blazers.
3:10 - That is seven shots for Brandon Jennings already. The other five Pistons that have seen floor time have taken a combined ten shots. Based on talent, that is not an appropriate split. 24-21 Blazers.
0:00 - Mo Williams is having his first really productive stretch for Portland. He has seven points and had some key buckets when the Pistons were making some noise. Hell, he even hit a three! The quarter ended with Joel Freeland nabbing an offensive rebound and hitting a fadeaway over the outstretched arms of Greg Monroe. That was pretty. 34-30 Blazers.
10:27 - Twelve-foot baseline jumpers from Robin Lopez should never be a thing. He airballed that one worse than an Andre Drummond free throw. The only plus was that the Pistons airballed their next two shots on the other end. I can't remember the last time I saw three airballs right in a row. 38-30 Blazers.
8:18 - Mo Williams continues to fire away. That's thirteen points on the night, already matching his season high. 42-40 Blazers.
6:55 - With a three from Rodney Stuckey, Detroit takes the lead. They should probably bring Jennings back in to shoot them out of this one. 43-42 Pistons.
6:22 - Number 0 Andre Drummond just fouled Number 0 Damian Lillard. That seems like that would hardly ever happen, as there are only a handful of 0s in the NBA. This isn't really important, just an interesting stat that I wish I could look up easily. Ah well. 45-44 Pistons.
4:37 - This delay of game thing is getting ridiculous. Jennings was just called for a delay of game warning, and there was a timeout called on the floor because of it. The timeout was then rescinded, and the whole ordeal took a few minutes of time before the refs figured it out and kept the game action going. Thanks, NBA, for keeping the game moving. 49-49 Tie.
2:51 - Mo Williams and Damian Lillard have twenty-seven points on 10-13 shooting. That is all. 54-51 Blazers.
0:18 - Williams still hasn't missed from the field. He's 7-7 from the field for fifteen points, leading all scorers on the night. Blazers ball with one final shot before the half. 58-55 Blazers.
0:00 - An off balance three from LaMarcus Aldridge as the clock expired? Not sure that's how Terry Stotts drew it up. That was a terrible possession, and a waste of a twenty second timeout. 58-55 Blazers.
10:31 - Guys, I forgot Chauncey Billups was in the game. He apparently played seven minutes in the first half? I think? Or the boxscore is wrong, which is probably more likely. After Brandon Jennings missed his first shot of the half, Billups is now taking over point guard duties and is bring the ball up the court. If Jennings doesn't have the ball, he can't shoot. 64-59 Blazers.
8:55 - Josh Smith three! Drink! On the other end, Robin Lopez somehow has six points in the quarter, which seems way too many for someone who threw up a twelve foot airball earlier in the game. 70-63 Blazers.
7:39 - Lopez and Andre Drummond just picked up double technical fouls. Drummond threw a high elbow in Lopez's face, and Lopez swatted his hand away. Well, it was more a lame high five than a swat, but there was enough for the refs to call it. Lopez took it right at Drummond on the next possession and scored in the post. What bizarro world is this where Lopez is scoring like mad? 73-68 Blazers.
4:58 - Drummond with the crazy block on Lillard, who tried to take it inside and lay it in. Drummond erased it with ease. He has a double double on the night with ten points and eleven rebounds, and has looked dominant during stretches. There is a reason folks are so excited about him this year. 73-70 Blazers.
4:58 - Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" just played on the loudspeaker! Woah! Sorry, Black Eyed Peas, but there is new greatest song to play live during a game. 73-70 Blazers.
3:19 - Joel Freeland with two nice plays in a row—first a touch pass to Aldridge for a basket, then a nice seal and reverse layup. The most improved player award is normally reserves for pseudo stars, but Freeland deserves some credit for going from a total scrub to competent bench player. 77-70 Blazers.
2:30 - And then 6'5" Rodney Stuckey just flat out rejected Freeland at the rim on a dunk attempt after I said nice things about him. Wow. That's going on SportsCenter later. 79-73 Blazers.
0:01 - Mo Williams with the near highlight play. With four seconds left in the quarter he managed to leak out in transition, after a touch pass from Batum, for a one on one breakaway. He missed the layup as time was expiring, but managed to pickup the foul instead. Two free throws later, and the Blazers are still holding on to their slim lead. 83-78 Blazers.
10:28 - The long ball is keeping Portland on top in this one—they are now ten for twenty on the night from deep. Back to back three-pointers from Dorell Wright and Damian Lillard, and now Detroit needs time. 89-80 Blazers.
10:15 - Charlie Villanueva threes are not what you need out of the timeout, Detroit. 89-80 Blazers.
8:03 - Lillard is taking over. With a nice dish to Lopez for the slam, Lillard now has twenty-three points and four dimes on the night. He's going for thirty tonight. Book it. 95-86 Blazers.
6:35 - Okay, maybe thirty was a little overzealous. Lillard took a heat check three from deep...and missed pretty badly. He's now on the bench. 100-92 Blazers.
4:29 - Batum with the best stretch of basketball on the night. He flew in for an offensive rebound, then threw a gorgeous one-handed no look pass to Lopez who proceeded to posterize Stuckey and pick up the and one. That was a great sequence. Portland is sitting pretty after that three point play. 105-92 Blazers.
3:51 - Robin Lopez with a beautiful assist? What?! He was going up for another poster dunk off of a nice pick and roll with Batum and managed to kick it to an open Aldridge for an easy layup. That looked like a mistake at first, but really it was just a nice pass from Lopez. Huh. 107-99 Blazers.
1:55 - Uh oh, Pistons chipping away. Jennings has eleven points in the quarter, and the Blazers have switched the longer Batum onto him to try and slow him down. No luck, as he got lost after Detroit picked up an offensive rebound and converted an easy alley-oop. 107-103 Blazers.
0:48 - The refs are checking over an out of bounds call. They've been at it for a few minutes now. Originally it was awarded to Detroit. This is a big call. 107-103 Blazers.
0:43 - Call stands. Pistons ball. With four seconds left on the shot clock, Greg Monroe isn't able to hit rim on his shot and the Pistons turn it over on a twenty-four second violation. But the refs want to review it, just to make sure all the excitement is sucked out of this place. 107-103 Blazers.
0:21 - Blazers keep the ball off of the shot clock violation but aren't able to do anything on the ensuing possession as Lillard turns it over. Pistons ball, down four, with twenty-one seconds left. Josh Smith is going to win this on a three just to spite me. 107-103 Blazers.
0:12 - Jennings misses a makeable shot over the outstretched arms of Aldridge. Lillard corrals the rebound and is promptly fouled. Two free throws later, and this one is over. 109-103 Blazers.
FINAL: 109-103 Blazers. Portland survives a bit of a scare at the end to secure their third win in a row. Mo Williams, Dorrell Wright, and Robin Lopez—all offseason acquisitions—came up huge for the Blazers tonight. We'll be doing this again on Wednesday night as Portland looks to even the season series against the Phoenix Suns.