Blazers rout Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Detroit Pistons are starting to look like the Detroit Lions — they're always a wreck on Sunday.
For the fourth Sunday in a row, the Pistons played like their hapless NFL counterparts, losing 96-85 to the Portland Trail Blazers.
"Other than asking the league not to schedule us for any more Sundays, there's nothing I can do about this," Pistons coach Michael Curry said.
While the Pistons are 10-2 during the rest of the week, they have been outscored by an average of 17 points while losing all four Sunday games.
Portland's young starting lineup dominated Detroit's first five, outscoring them 74-52.
"This was a gritty effort," said Portland coach Nate McMillan. "When you go into Detroit and beat them, it is going to be with a gritty effort."
LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 27 points, while Brandon Roy added 19 and Greg Oden finished with 10 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in the Blazers' fourth straight win.
"This is a good win for us because we've struggled against good teams on the road this year," Roy said. "We had good focus, and we were able to close the game."
Richard Hamilton had 18 for Detroit, but Allen Iverson finished with only nine on 2-for-9 shooting. The Pistons fell to just 6-6 since Iverson joined the team.
"This is a difficult situation for us because it has almost been like a training camp for us since I got here," Iverson said. "I'm sitting more right now than I ever have in my career, and my rhythm isn't there. I'm missing shots that I normally knock down 110 percent of the time, and that's all on me."
As they have done all season on Sundays, the Pistons got off to a terrible start. Detroit's starters were a combined 1-for-9 in the first quarter, and fell behind by 14 at one point.
"This game is on our starters," Curry said. "They put us in a hole that we never got out of, and when we put them back in, they didn't do anything great. I'm a basketball coach — I shouldn't have to be searching for energy."
Later, Detroit's reserves went on a 10-0 run that helped the Pistons get to 45-42 before Portland scored the final five points of the half. Aldridge had 17 points in the half, 11 more than any Piston.
Portland threatened to pull away throughout the third, but Detroit was able to keep itself in the game. Hamilton's jumper at the quarter buzzer cut the lead to 70-64.
Amir Johnson's put-back tied the game with 9:04 left, and Arron Afflalo put them ahead with two free throws on Detroit's next possession.
Steve Blake, though, answered with a 3-pointer, and Roy's three-point play moved Portland up 85-80 with 5:31 left.
Roy and Nicolas Batum hit jumpers on the next two possessions, giving Portland a nine-point edge, and the Pistons never seriously threatened again.
"Before tonight, teams have made runs like that against us and we've given in to the pressure," McMillan said. "Tonight, after Detroit made that run, our guys were calm. They didn't panic. They executed offensively and got the defensive stops we needed."