Trail Blazers vs Timberwolves Monday, 02/14/11 AT 05:00PM

Portland Fends Off Pesky Pistons

  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 5.0

    The Portland Trail Blazers (30-24) have begun to find a rhythm, as Portland took down the Detroit Pistons (20-35) 105-100 on Sunday for its fourth consecutive victory.

    "We just need to stay hungry," Head Coach Nate McMillan said. "I thought tonight was a battle and we had to win the last five minutes... I thought our guys again, came up with the stops and we made some adjustments on the sideline. I thought all these guys did a nice job but we made some adjustments to make some breaks in the game and we made some stops."

    LaMarcus Aldridge posted 36 points on 12-for-17 shooting - his third-straight outing with at least 36 points, becoming the first player in franchise history to do so.

    "I think he’s an All-Star," Wesley Matthews said. "I think he’s an All-Star 10 times out of 10. He makes shots, that is what he does. He has stepped up and I say he is an All-Star, he is definitely playing like one."

    Matthews added to the offensive attack with 26 points, pocketing four three-balls on five attempts. Andre Miller finished with 15 points and 12 assists.

    "It was a gut check for us and it was a big win that we needed, to a talented team," Matthews said. "You can’t play records or anything like that and to get any win on the road is going to be tough. You can’t get sick of winning and the great teams don’t get tired of winning and they don’t get tired of doing what’s right and making the game easy and that is what we have to continue today."

    For the fourth-straight game, the Trail Blazers shot better than 50 percent from the floor, finishing this matchup with a 54.7 shooting percentage. Also for the fourth-straight game, Portland eclipsed the century mark, although it took late free throws to seal the win in Auburn Hills.

    With a little more than a minute remaining, Chris Wilcox was whistled for three seconds in the lane, giving Portland the ball. On that possession, Andre Miller drew a foul and sank a pair of free throws for a 97-95 advantage.

    Then, following a free throw by Wilcox, Aldridge drilled a jumper of a Miller feed, increasing Portland's advantage to three points.

    Austin Daye air-balled a leaning three-pointer, allowing the Trail Blazers to get the ball to Miller, who made two free throws with less than 20 seconds left. Four more freebies for the Trail Blazers and the game was in the books.

    "I think the execution was Aldridge, Aldridge and Aldridge and then when they were looking to run a play they went to Aldridge," Detroit coach John Kuester said. "It was either a pick and roll or post up. The execution of Aldridge was pretty good."

    The Pistons, who have the league's second-highest bench scoring, received useful production from their reserves, outscoring Portland's bench 57-17. Gordon led the way with 18 points, while Tracy McGrady chipped in with 16 points and five assists. Will Bynum registered 15 points and four assists.

    Thanks to seven early points and two assists by McGrady, the Pistons strung together a 13-2 run to grab a 17-9 advantage midway through the opening quarter, as Detroit went 5-of-6 from the floor to elicit a Portland timeout.

    The Trail Blazers closed the quarter on an 11-4 run to narrow the gap to 21-20 after on quarter of play, as Portland shot 50 percent from the field, but three turnovers and five allowed offensive rebounds gave Detroit an opportunity to take the lead.

    Detroit regained control in the second with a three-point play by Bynum, capping a 6-0 string that put the Pistons ahead 33-31, but Portland pushed back, answering with four-straight, including a Rudy Fernandez flush in the lane.

    As the Trail Blazers pushed their lead to 41-35 with an alley-oop dunk by Aldridge, Detroit stayed close thanks to Tayshaun Prince, who hit a turnaround jumper late in period to trim the deficit to 41-40. The Pistons then reclaimed the advantage on a Charlie Villanueva bucket on their next possession.

    Matthews and Aldridge teamed up for 15 of Portland's first 17 points of the second half, helping the Trail Blazers jump ahead, as the Trail Blazers sank seven of eight shots to begin the period.

    Portland built its advantage to 70-63 when Batum found Joel Przybilla for a close look. Detroit scored seven of the period's final nine points, however, as the Pistons climbed back to within four at 74-70.

    Patty Mills hit consecutive field goals for the Trail Blazers to open the fourth quarter, including a steal and finish on the other end to extend Portland's lead to 79-70. Detroit refused to give in.

    After back-to-back turnovers by the Trail Blazers, Bynum pulled up on a jumper and buried it to put the Pistons up 83-82 that capped a 13-3 run.

    On a fastbreak, Matthews put up a lay-up that missed, but Miller followed it with a putback shot to give Portland the advantage. A technical free throw by Miller soon after put the Trail Blazers up by three.

    After Gordon hit a three-pointer to knot the game up at 93 and with less than two minutes to go in the game, Bynum sank a pair of free throws to give Detroit the lead. Aldridge matched that on the other end with two free throws of his own.

    Two Miller free throws and an Aldridge jumper put Portland ahead for good, as free throws down the stretch put the game away.

    Portland was just 9-for-9 from the charity stripe after three quarters, but the Trail Blazers continually found their way to the line in the final period, finishing the game 29-for-30.

    "You get caught up in their tempo," McMillan said. "I thought they played their tempo most of the game, walking the ball up the floor. When we did get out and push the ball we got some easy baskets."

    Portland wraps up its three-game road trip with a visit to the Target Center on Monday night, where the Trail Blazers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-41).

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