The Portland Trail Blazers got a bounce back performance from their starting point guard, a near-perfect shooting performance from his backup and near identical production from their starting frontcourt to beat the Detroit Pistons 109-103 at the Moda Center Monday night.
“I thought it was another solid win,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I was pleased with our offense, disappointed wiht our defense, but ultimately we made stops when we needed to. You can never analyze a win too much, but it was definitely good to get a win and I think it shows we still have room to grow.”
With the victory, which was achieved on Military Appreciation Night, the Trail Blazers move to 5-2 on the season and have won three-straight for the first time since a four-game streak in early January 2013.
After a one for 15 shooting performance in Saturday night’s 96-85 victory against the Kings in Sacramento, Damian Lillard responded Monday night with a seven for 16 night from the field to finish with 25 points. He did much of his damage from deep in the first half, going a perfect four of four from three. He also added four assists, five rebounds and a block in 35 minutes.
“I didn’t shoot the ball well in Sacramento but I thought I played a good game other than that,” said Lillard. “We won the game. I took the same shots that I’ve been taking, they just went in (against Detroit). I didn’t think about it too much but I’m happy we were able to win the game.”
Stotts predicted prior to the game that Lillard would have a bounce back effort similar to the 33-point performance he turned in against the Heat last season after going one for 15 two nights before against the Magic.
“I had a good feeling that he would play a good game,” said Stotts. “I think he’s somewhat unphased by a bad shooting night and, in some respects, comes back even better. I think he showed that last year.”
Lillard’s performance, while impressive, wasn’t nearly as efficient as Mo Williams’, who finished with 17 points on seven of nine shooting. Williams hit his first five shots of the night before missing a 19-foot jumper at the 2:36 mark of the fourth quarter.
“He was big time,” said Lillard of Williams. “He always picks up the pace of the game with the speed he plays at. Tonight he made shots, he made plays for guys. Guarding (Brandon) Jennings, he was pursuing over every pick and roll. He changed the game and that’s what we need him to do, come in and change the game.”
But it wasn’t just Portland’s guards who had hot nights from the field. LaMarcus Aldridge turned in yet another fine all-around performance with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four assists while his fellow big man Robin Lopez had his best game as a Trail Blazer with 17 points on seven of ten shooting and 10 rebounds.
“I love Robin,” said Stotts. “He just played hard every minute he’s out there. He gives effort at the boards at both ends. He’s a great team player and does what we need him to do. When he’s able to contribute offensively, that’s great. For him to get a double-double, he’s really an important part of our team.”
After the game, Aldridge attributed Lopez’s performance to the time-tested advantage of playing in front of family.
“His mom is here so she’s staying for the rest of the season now!” joked Aldridge. “He was making post moves and diving to the basket, throwing dimes to me. Tonight, he played with that energy and that high level that we need from him. He blocked shots, he rebounded, he scored, he was talking more tonight. I thought his energy was great tonight.”
While Lopez’s energy and Portland’s shooting percentages could be described as great, their defensive, by the admission of nearly everyone in Portland’s locker room, was not, as evidenced by Detroit outscoring Portland 60-36 points in the paint. While Stotts was satisfied with some of what the team did, particularly forcing the Pistons to shoot mid-range jumpshots, he said he’d like to see his team slow down opponents more often.
“I’d like to get to the point where we’re able to take away other teams’ strengths a little bit better,” said Stotts. “Detroit did what they did. They are a paint team, they are an offensive rebounding team. We did a better job with the transition defense, but they’re a transition team. I’d like to get to the point where we’re a little bit better at taking away other teams’ strengths. That being said, they shot a fair amount of mid-range shots. Actually, they shot more mid-range shots than they usually. They shot 42 percent from mid-range which is a decent number. If you look at effective field goal percentage, we did a nice job. We took away threes. I would have liked to have rebounded the ball a little bit better. The first half, I would have liked to control their transition a little bit better. Shots at the rim, control that a bit better. Just getting to a point where – teams do what they do, we just need to not let them do it quite as well as they normally do.”
The Pistons were led by Brandon Jennings (28 points on 11 of 24 shooting) and sophomore Andre Drummond, who turned in a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds in 42 minutes. Greg Monroe added 19 points and eight rebounds in the losing effort.
Next up, the Trail Blazers look for some opening-night revenge when they host the Suns at the Moda Center. Tipoff is schedule for 7 PM.