6 observations from the Trail Blazers victory in Detroit

The Portland Trail Blazers picked up their second straight win in as many days by beating the Detroit Pistons 110-104 on Monday night. The win comes just a day after defeating the Orlando Magic, taking the Blazers to 2-1 on their current road trip.

Portland was led by Damian Lillard’s 31st and Jerami Grant’s 26th.

The Pistons had a balanced offense, led by Isaiah Livers with 17 points. Behind him, Cory Joseph had 14, and Jaden Ivey and Alec Burks both contributed with 13.

If you missed the game, check out our Quarter by quarter summary here

Now, for some observations on tonight’s victory:

Damian Lillard… Again

It’s easy to become desensitized to how amazing Lillard has been lately. Tonight he recorded just the third triple-double of his career tonight. It was also the quickest of his career, as he got it with just over three minutes left in the third quarter with just over 25 minutes played. Lillard set the tone with 16 points in the first quarter to help the Blazers take a big lead, before stepping back and making it easy for everyone else on the team en route to 12 assists. His 13 rebounds marked a season high. It was also Lillard’s 26th straight 20-point game.

Three ruffles

The Blazers made 15 three-pointers on just 33 attempts, good for 46 percent from deep. Six of them came from Damian Lillard, but Jerami Grant and Cam Reddish added four and three respectively. The Blazers used the driving and kicking offense again and again. This led to quality shots from deep almost every time. An effective three-run night to wins the most often in the NBA, and tonight was no exception for the Blazers.

The Blazers shot just below their season average of 34.8 attempts per game, but the efficiency of those shots gave them the advantage tonight.

Defense unites

The Blazers finally showed what they can do on the defensive side of the ball, and all it took was playing against the team with the worst record in the league. The Blazers held the Pistons to just 104 points, the lowest total allowed since giving up 101 to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a Dec. 21 loss.

There were, however, promising signs from the Blazers defense. They had seven flights and six blocks. They forced 16 total turnovers and kept the Pistons just 31% from range. Of course, there’s still work to be done on defense going forward, and getting healthy will help that goal, but tonight was a show of what could be.

A near collapse

The Blazers seemed to be in control for most of tonight’s game. However, they were outscored 30-21 in the fourth quarter and nearly allowed the Pistons to steal the late game. Lillard had to play almost the entire last frame.

The Blazers entered the final quarter with just four turnovers, but it was a whole different story after that. They had seven in the last frame alone. This gave the Pistons an additional 11 points on turnovers during the quarter. Fortunately, the Blazers were able to hold on late in the game with a few clutch shots.

Bouncing back from misfortunes

Damian Lillard had a season-high 13 rebounds tonight, but the Blazers were still outshot 52-38. Their inability to keep Detroit out of the offensive glass proved to be a weakness. They gave up 16 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points. The Blazers shot far more effectively than the Pistons, especially from deep, but that advantage was anything but dampened as they allowed the Pistons to misfire time and time again throughout the contest.

With Jusuf Nurkic and Justise Winslow both sidelined, rebounding was always going to be tough against a bigger club. The Blazers were able to overcome the rebound difference thanks to Lillard’s rebound and be able to make up for lost runs with three on the other end.

beat during the break

The Pistons scored 22 points in the fast break tonight, to just one from the Blazers. Detroit is the second youngest team in the league and they played like that tonight. They forced live ball turnovers that led to easy points, but they also missed shots. The Pistons sped the Blazers all night and used the advantage to score points without having to face a set defense.

The Blazers, meanwhile, played almost exclusively in the half court. Luckily, there were times when even a Pistons defense gave way to quality looks.


The score of the box

The Blazers are back in action Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics for Game 4 of their six-game road trip. This game clocks in at 4:30 p.m. Pacific.

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