The Blazers continue to roll as they easily beat the sliding Detroit Pistons 100-97 in a satisfying St. Paddy's Day romp. The last time these two teams played, just over a month ago in Detroit, things went much differently. Detroit was on the rise then, having just traded for star forward Blake Griffin, and Portland was drifting, unable to win on a consistent basis and losing to teams they should have been blowing out. Detroit won that game by 20 points, but early February feels like an eon ago in Blazerland. Starting Feb 14th, the Blazers began one of the most impressive winning streaks in team history. It now stands at 12, their longest run in over 11 years, and with the playoffs around the corner, the timing couldn't be better.
Portland employed an even offensive attack, with all five starting players scoring in double digits. The game was won with defense though, as Detroit struggled to find a shooting grove all night. Especially effective was Al-Farouq Aminu, who held the larger, stronger Blake Griffin to only 15 points and 6 rebounds. Detroit's Andre Drummond did lots of damage, collecting 22 rebounds and scoring 18 points, but he alone couldn't swing the game. Portland led by 15 at the half. Want to see what the crazy Blazer fans looked like during the break? Read on!
This guy was feeling the St. Patrick's Day Spirit:
This couple was feeling the Blazer spirit:
This dude went all in:
These two are loving the winning streak!
More St. Paddy's Day fanwear. The guy in the middle was celebrating his birthday:
This gal rocked the holiday harder than anyone though. Her shoes were blinking green:
The Blazers extended their lead as high as 18 in the third quarter. It would have been nice to see them take control at that point and blow Detroit out of the water, but the Pistons went on a run and cut the lead down to 5, briefly. Fortunately the Blazers pulled it together and took control after Aminu sunk a nice three pointer.
Lillard was great again, even if his shooting was a little less sharp than usual. Late in the third quarter the crowd chanted "MVP! MVP!" very loudly as he drained a pair of free throws. It was the loudest that particular cheer has been all season, and it's well deserved. Lillard has steered this team like a master ever since this winning streak began.
Detroit's coach, Stan Van Gundy, was livid after the game, claiming the referees had cheated his players. ''They held and grabbed on every play and they got away with fouls all over the place. We got absolutely screwed all night,'' Van Gundy said.
To be honest, I didn't notice anything unusual about the officiating, but this kind of thing can be one of the advantages of being on a hot streak like the Blazers are on right now. Whistles just seem to go your way when your team is winning big. For years, especially during losing seasons, Blazers fans have felt NBA officials never gave our little scrappy team the benefit of the doubt on close calls. Now that the team is winning and become something of a media darling, it's certainly possible that a few more decisions will go the Blazers' way.
After the game, there was no time for celebrating in the Blazer's locker room. The team showered and changed quickly and boarded a plane at 11:00pm bound for Los Angeles. There they will take on the 9th place Clippers on Sunday night. It should be a good game as the Clippers are fighting to make the playoffs. If the Blazers win in LA, extending their streak to 13, then Tuesday's game, back home at the Moda Center against arch rivals, the 1st place Houston Rockets, will be HUGE. Break all your plans that night and get a ticket if you can, for it shall be a brawl worth watching.