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Lillard hits OT winner as Blazers edge Pistons

The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Damian Lillard wiped away a night of frustration in a split second.

Lillard, Portland's second-year point guard, made a spinning shot in the lane with one-tenth of a second remaining in overtime to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 111-109 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night at The Palace.

Lillard made just six of 21 field-goal attempts but hit the biggest one as the Western Conference-leading Trail Blazers (21-4) won their fourth straight. Lillard scored eight points in the extra session.

"I had a lot of shots tonight that I let go ... that felt good and didn't fall," said Lillard, who finished with 23 points and seven assists. "When that one went in, I was like, 'Thank you. We can finally get out of here.'"

The Trail Blazers, who erased a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit, utilized the strategy that worked for them in the closing minutes.

"It was the same play we had run the last three or four times," coach Terry Stotts said. "Spacing the court, have shooters in the game, have (Lillard) with LA (power forward LaMarcus Aldridge) in a ball screen and just make a play, whether it's a drive to the rim, a jump shot or pass."

Lillard got past point guard Brandon Jennings, then shot over guard Rodney Stuckey.

"I figured he would try to beat me to the basket, so I just faded away off the spin," Lillard said. "It was good D. He had a good contest, but I was able to get the shot off."

Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Small forward Nicolas Batum had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists for Portland, which improved to 10-0 against the Eastern Conference.

Forward Josh Smith scored a season-high 31 points for the Pistons (11-14). Stuckey scored 17 points off the bench, and power forward Greg Monroe had 17 points. Jennings racked up 15 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists, while center Andre Drummond added 13 points and 14 rebounds.

"If this doesn't sting, I don't know what does," Smith said. "The game was pretty much won, but we found a way not to win."

Drummond's put-back dunk in the final minute of overtime tied the score at 107. Lillard gave Portland the lead with 24.4 seconds remaining on two free throws, but Stuckey's pull-up jumper tied it again before Lillard's game-winner.

"Offensive rebounds were the difference," Detroit coach Mo Cheeks said. "We pretty much took them out of 3-point shooting, which is what we talked about before the game. Aldridge, we knew he could be a handful down low. He got 27 (points) on 25 shots. We did the job. We just didn't rebound the ball."

Detroit finished with a 53-47 edge on the boards, plus an 18-15 edge in offensive rebounds.

The Pistons led by 13 early in the fourth quarter, but the Trail Blazers climbed back by crashing the boards. They had 18 second-chance points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

"We've been a good offensive rebounding team," Stotts said. "It's not necessarily something we emphasize, but we have guys who go after it."

Aldridge's free throws with 3:48 remaining cut Detroit's lead to 94-92. Smith answered with a three-point play, and Detroit held a slim lead until Blazers guard Wesley Matthews made two free throws with 30.8 seconds left for a 99-99 tie.

Neither team could convert in the remaining seconds, sending the game to overtime.

NOTES: Portland reserve C Meyers Leonard served a one-game league suspension handed down earlier in the day. He body-slammed Philadelphia 76ers C Daniel Orton during the fourth quarter of the Trail Blazers' 139-105 win on Saturday. ... Pistons PG Will Bynum was active after missing 14 of the previous 16 games with a hamstring injury, but he did not play Sunday. ... The Trail Blazers have used the same starting five every game. ... Portland's 20-4 record entering the game was tied for second-best start in franchise history. The Blazers began 22-2 in 1990-91. ... Detroit G Chauncey Billups' .894 career free-throw percentage is second among active players behind the Los Angeles Lakers' Steve Nash (.904). ... Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said the Blazers' franchise-record 21 3-point makes in Philadelphia came within the offensive flow. "I want our guys to shoot open 3s," he said. "Of the 21 3s we made, 18 came off a pass. I think they were quality shots." ... The Pistons began the day leading the NBA with an average of 51.2 points in the paint. They added 68 inside points Sunday to the Blazers' 42.
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