AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—Detroit basketball fans have fond memories of Zach Randolph’s days at Michigan State.
They aren’t enjoying his pro career quite as much.
Randolph had 31 points and 13 rebounds Tuesday night, including a go-ahead basket with 21.6 seconds to go, and the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a five-game losing streak with an 88-85 win over Detroit.
“This is a big win,” he said. “You can’t do better than this—starting a road trip by beating one of the best teams in the league.”
Randolph had a career-high 37 points in his last trip to the Palace, a 93-89 loss on Dec. 20, 2005.
“I love playing in Detroit,” he said. “I went to college around here, and I love coming back.”
Richard Hamilton had 25 for Detroit, which lost its second straight after an eight-game winning streak.
“This was a horrible loss for us,” said Chauncey Billups, who kept the Pistons close with eight points in the final 4 minutes. “These are the kind of games that can haunt you late in the season.”
Detroit also lost Sunday in Charlotte. The Trail Blazers and Bobcats are a combined 12-24.
“We haven’t had a sense of urgency in the last two games,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “When you win eight in a row, you start maybe feeling too good about yourself.”
Rasheed Wallace’s layup made it a one-point game, and Dixon missed a long jumper before Billups gave the Pistons the lead with a 22-footer. Randolph answered with a driving jumper over Tayshaun Prince, putting Portland ahead 86-85.
Hamilton missed twice at the other end and Jack increased the margin to three with a pair of free throws with 2 seconds to play. Hamilton shot an airball at the buzzer.
“I’m happy,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “We just beat an unbelievable team on the road after some disappointing losses at home.”
Jack finished with 18 points and rookie LaMarcus Aldridge had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“Jarrett went up against possibly the best point guard in the league in Chauncey, and did a pretty good job,” McMillan said. “LaMarcus had 11 and 11 against two of the best guys in the league in Rasheed and Tayshaun Prince. This just shows that we’re a young team. Some nights we’ll look really good and some nights we’ll look like a young, inexperienced team.”
Billups finished with 17 for Detroit.
“Hopefully, we can turn this around real quick,” Billups said.
Detroit led 44-41 at halftime, helped by 15 first-quarter points from Hamilton. Portland outrebounded the Pistons 23-16 in the first half, but only forced two turnovers.
The Trail Blazers scored the first eight points of the third quarter, including a 3-pointer by Ime Udoka, and held a slim lead for most of the period.
Billups, though, hit a late 3 to let the Pistons enter the fourth tied at 64.
Dan Dickau, who hadn’t played in the first three quarters, hit an early 3-pointer to give Portland a 69-66 lead, and the Pistons struggled to regain the lead.
Another Billups 3-pointer pulled them to 79-78 with 3:39 to play, and he tied it at 80 with a pair of free throws a minute later.
Prince picked up a third-quarter technical for arguing a call, and Portland was called for a defensive three-second violation with 1:52 to play. … Tigers outfielder Craig Monroe watched the game from a seat behind the Portland bench. … Portland rookie Brandon Roy missed the game with a sore left heel, and Detroit’s Lindsey Hunter was out with a sore right Achilles’ tendon. … Randolph had to ice his sore right knee during the first half, but was able to return to the game. “I thought I was done, but I was able to run it out,” he said.