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Knight, Pistons shut down Trail Blazers

The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Brandon Knight scored a season-high 26 points Monday, but his defense was even more impressive.

Knight held Portland's standout rookie point guard, Damian Lillard, to 12 points, tying his season low, and the Detroit Pistons defeated the Trail Blazers 108-101 at The Palace.

The Pistons (4-11) won their third straight home game. The Blazers (6-8) have lost each of the first two games of a seven-game Eastern Conference road trip.

Lillard missed his first 12 shots and went 4-for-18 from the field. He was averaging an NBA rookie-best 19.6 points entering the game.

"It's becoming a league where there's a lot of great players at the point guard position," said Knight, a second-year guard. "Of course I was aware how he had been playing. I want to play defensively like that all the time, no matter who I'm playing against and not just step it up against a guy that's been playing well.

"Defensively, a lot of times it starts with me, and that will trickle down to the rest of the guys."

Knight's backcourt partner, rookie Kyle Singler, had his first double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Greg Monroe contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons. Detroit, which had seven players in double figures while scoring a season high, avoided tying its worst start in franchise history after 15 games.

LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed Portland's game at Brooklyn on Sunday with back spasms, poured in a season-high 32 points, but the Trail Blazers (6-8) lost for the second straight day. Wesley Matthews added 19 points for the Blazers.

Portland, second worst in the league in field-goal percentage defense, allowed the Pistons to shoot 52.5 percent. The Blazers made 42.4 percent of their shots.

"We let them play their game," Blazers forward Nicolas Batum said. "They shot over 50 percent. Anytime you let a team shoot over 50 percent, we do not have a chance to win the game, especially on the road."

Detroit allowed 121 points to the New York Knicks on Sunday.

"In the last game, we gave up a lot of easy baskets, and we were playing a similar type of team," Knight said. "We were able to get more stops (Monday). It wasn't mistake-free, but we were able to sustain enough to win the game."

Lillard finally broke his field-goal drought late in the third quarter with a layup and quickly added a 3-pointer, sparking a 7-0 run that cut Detroit's lead to four. Singler pushed the lead back to 82-73 in the final second of the quarter on a 3-pointer.

Charlie Villanueva increased the Pistons' lead to 90-77 with a 3-pointer. Portland never got closer than six the rest of the way.

"It was poor," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said of his team's defense. "Brandon Knight did a nice job with the pick-and-rolls, got to the rim and made his 3s. Kyle Singler got his open looks, and Greg Monroe got to the basket, so we did not take much away from the things they do."

Knight and Singler carried Detroit to a 54-49 halftime lead. Knight had 16 first-half points, including three 3-pointers, while Singler racked up eight points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals before the break.

All of Knight's first-half 3-pointers came in the second quarter after the Trail Blazers erased a nine-point deficit. The last one gave the Pistons a 48-45 advantage, and he increased the lead to five with a scoop shot.

"Brandon did a great job with his matchup of making everything very, very hard for Lillard," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "In that first half, he really controlled it for us. I thought Brandon played a tremendous floor game."

Singler sparked the Pistons' fast break, as all five of his assists came in transition, including a feed to Monroe for a layup late in the half. Singler's rebounding was an even bigger bonus, as he hadn't grabbed more than five prior to Monday.

NOTES: Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey played despite a sprained left ankle suffered against New York on Sunday. He finished with 11 points and four assists. ... Detroit got off to a 3-12 start in three previous seasons -- 1962-63, 1980-81 and 2011-12. ... The Trail Blazers had won six of their last seven against the Pistons. ... Villanueva, the Pistons' third-highest paid player at $8 million, is back in the rotation after being buried on the bench all of last season and the first 13 games this year. Villanueva scored 17 points in New York and chipped in 10 Monday. "We have four guys that are very good at that position, and not all of them can play," Frank said.
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