Pistons 87, Trail Blazers 75
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—While the Suns and the Mavericks seem to grab all the attention, the Detroit Pistons are quietly rolling through their current road trip.
“I’m not scared of nobody,” Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace said. “They should be scared of us.”
The Pistons, who lead the Eastern Conference, improved to 4-0 on a five-game road trip that ends at Phoenix on Friday. Then it’s home to play the Mavericks. Those are the top two teams in the much stronger West.
“We relish flying under the radar right now. The talk is all about Dallas and Phoenix and that’s fine with us,” Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. “We’re comfortable with where we are at and our guys are really following the game plan.”
Tayshaun Prince added 15 points for Detroit, which led by 18 in the first half before the Trail Blazers tied it early in the second. The Pistons quickly pulled back ahead, going up 87-70 on Carlos Delfino’s dunk with 2:54 left.
Zach Randolph had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost six of their past eight games, including a 107-99 loss at Denver on Tuesday night. Randolph has 35 double-doubles this season.
Both teams appeared sluggish from the start, but the Pistons started to pull away toward the end of the first quarter, when Hamilton’s long jumper made it 24-14.
The Pistons, coming off a 101-97 victory at Seattle on Tuesday night, extended their margin to 38-20 on Antonio McDyess’ jumper.
The Blazers went on an 11-3 run to close the first half and cut the deficit to 45-37.
Portland made only 14 of 39 shots (36 percent) from the floor in the first half, while the Pistons hit 20 of 38 (50.6 percent). For the game, Detroit shot 51 percent (38-for-74) and Portland shot 39 percent (20-for-71).
“As for tonight’s game is concerned, we have to play just about perfect basketball to win a game like this,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “We had a lot of open shots in that first half but didn’t knock them down. We’re still developing.”
Wallace, a former Blazer, answered with a jumper and pumped his fist to kick off a 10-0 run that put the Pistons back in front 57-47.
Detroit led 68-58 at the end of the third quarter after Chauncey Billups’ 3-pointer.
“All the talk about the Western Conference teams and Miami with D-Wade coming back—we thrive in that situation,” Billups said.
Detroit has won the past four at the Rose Garden, but lost 88-85 to the Blazers in Detroit on Dec. 5.
Aldridge made his sixth straight start for Portland with center Joel Przybilla out for the rest of the season with knee surgery. He was supposed to be wearing a protective mask after fracturing his nose against Denver, but started without one.
Aldridge had 14 points and 10 rebounds, for his second consecutive double-double.
Brandon Roy added 15 points.
“I think we have a shot (at the playoffs) mathematically, but teams are really playing good right now,” Roy said. “So I think we’re seeing where we’re at.”
Wallace, a former Trail Blazer who became known for his pat “Both teams played hard,” comment and was traded away as part of Portland’s efforts to overhaul a roster filled of malcontents, still has plenty of fans in the city. There were numerous Wallace jerseys in the crowd, and even applause when he scored in the first quarter. But he also got a hand when he was called for a third foul midway through the second quarter. … The Pistons are 22-10 on the road, the best road record in the East.