The Detroit Pistons have become a strong second-half team. The way they’ve been opening games this season, they have to be.
The Pistons look to turn in a complete effort when they host the Portland Trail Blazers.
Detroit beat Cleveland 81-69 on Thursday for its second straight victory and fifth in seven games. However, the Pistons trailed entering the second quarter for the 16th time in 22 games and had to rebound from a halftime deficit for the second straight game.
“We continue to make it tough on ourselves in the first half by playing so relaxed,” said center Ben Wallace, who had 10 points and 15 rebounds against the Cavaliers. “In the second half, we have to play perfect.”
The Pistons trailed the Knicks 56-40 at halftime Wednesday before coming back for a 94-93 victory. They were behind 41-31 on Thursday before outscoring the Cavaliers 21-6 in the third quarter. The six-point period matched an NBA season low.
“The first half we didn’t match their energy. They got every loose ball and every long rebound. They outrebounded us and they executed great, and I didn’t think we executed,” said Detroit coach Larry Brown, who won his 945th game to move past Bill Fitch for fourth place on the NBA’s all-time list.
“The second half we played as well as we could play.”
Darius Miles added 20 points, and Derek Anderson had 15 for the Blazers. Nick Van Exel started in place of struggling point guard Damon Stoudamire, who had started 103 straight games. Van Exel finished with six points and seven assists.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim missed his second straight game with a hyperextended right elbow. Abdur-Rahim suffered the injury Dec. 10 at Utah, but played in two games before sitting out Wednesday’s 112-88 loss at Cleveland.