Detroit (40-22) improved to 3-0 on the trip Tuesday, as Chris Webber scored 24 points in a 101-97 victory at Seattle. The win kept the Pistons two games up on Cleveland for both first place in the Central Division and the best record in the East.
With a 21-10 road record, they are also the only team in the East with more than 14 wins away from home.
“I thought the best thing for us was to go on the road to re-establish our identity and how we’re going to play,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said.
Webber has been stellar on the trip, averaging 21.0 points and 9.3 rebounds, including Tuesday’s performance - his best since signing with the team as a free agent on Jan. 16.
“He’s C-Webb again,” Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said of the veteran who is averaging 14.0 points and 7.6 rebounds in 26 games with Detroit. “He’s back to being his old self.”
After this contest, the Pistons play consecutive games against the top two teams in the NBA. They finish the road trip at Phoenix on Friday, then return home Sunday to face Dallas.
Before that, Detroit will have avoid overlooking Portland, where it has won its last three visits.
The Pistons, though, lost 88-85 to the Blazers at home on Dec. 5, when Zach Randolph scored 31 points - including the go-ahead basket with 21.6 seconds left - and added 12 rebounds.
The former Michigan State standout was even better in the previous matchup between the teams, with 37 points and 11 boards, although Portland came up short with a 93-89 loss at Detroit on Dec. 20, 2005.
The power forward had 26 points and eight rebounds Tuesday and LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 24 points and a career-high 17 boards, but their efforts were not enough as the Trail Blazers (26-37) committed 19 turnovers and lost 107-99 at Denver.
“Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers,” Blazers guard Brandon Roy said. “You can’t beat a team playing like that. We were terrible.”
Portland has turned the ball 37 times in its last two games, and will likely need to be more careful against a Pistons club that has forced 60 turnovers during the first three games of its road trip.
The Trail Blazers have dropped three of their last four contests and five of seven, dropping three games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
Aldridge, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the last meeting with Detroit, is expected to make his sixth consecutive start at center with Joel Przybilla sidelined for the rest of 2006-07 after undergoing knee surgery on Feb. 23. The rookie is averaging 15.6 points and 9.2 rebounds since entering the starting lineup.