The Pistons fell Monday night in Portland, 109-103, opening their four-game road trip with their third loss in a row.
Portland's seemingly endless barrage of 3-point shooters threatened to blow this game wide open several times, and the Blazers led by as many as 13 with fewer than four minutes left in the game. But the Pistons charged back in the final minutes,, cutting their deficit to four points with 88 seconds remaining. That proved to be as close as they'd come, though, closing the game with three missed shots and a turnover.
Brandon Jennings led all scorers with 28 points (11-for-24 from the field) for the Pistons, while Greg Monroe added 19 and eight rebounds. Andre Drummond scored 16 points with 16 rebounds, coming just a rebound shy of tallying a double-double in the second half alone.
What stood out:
The Trail Blazers can shoot the damn basketball. Seriously. Even though the Pistons had a huge advantage in terms of points in the paint, 60 to 36, it was Blazers that finished the game shooting 51.2 percent, including an 11-for-23 (47.8 percent) performance from 3-point range. Detroit, meanwhile, shot 46.2 percent from the field, including a meager 3-for-14 (21.4 percent) from long distance.
Who stood out:
Greg Monroe, obviously; his footwork on the offensive end has become downright special. Did he spend his entire summer in a gym? Is Rasheed Wallace's influence that strong? Whatever happened, I'm loving it -- his spin moves in the paint are a sight to behold. His midrange jumper from the elbow is also becoming more and more reliable -- that's an important shot for him to master to help keep the opposition from completely packing the paint.
Andre Drummond shot 8-for-9 from the field. I'm not sure the Pistons run a single play for him (beyond the alley-oop, of course), but he made the most of his opportunities around the bucket.
While it was good to see Josh Smith show some much needed restraint with the long ball -- he finished with just three attempts, making one -- it seemed to throw off his rhythm. After finishing the first half with 11 points on 4-of-5 shots and three rebounds in 17 minutes, he failed to score a point or grab a rebound in 19 minutes after halftime.
There's been no sophomore slump for Damian Lillard; he led the Blazers with 25 points, shooting 5-for-8 from 3-point land, while adding four assists and five rebounds.
Robin Lopez's game (or hair) may not be pretty, but it's damn effective. Of his 17 points and 10 rebounds, 15 and six came after halftime: he caught the Pistons napping time and again, and he's an important reason why the Blazers finished the game with a 24 to 13 advantage in second-half points.
• Portland's ability to unleash a barrage of 3-pointers from several positions on the floor makes them extremely dangerous. That's incredibly obvious to point out, but it's no joke, and very annoying.
• I believe that Lopez is quite underrated, but I also feel like he had a far greater impact on this game than he should have -- much like Steven Adams did a few nights earlier against the Thunder. Given the Pistons' size up front, they can't let these second- and third-tier big men do so much damage.
• Charlie Villanueva got in the game. No, really. And Luigi Datome, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jonas Jerebko all picked up DNP-CDs. In a game in which the Pistons are getting downright abused from long distance, I don't understand why Mo Cheeks kept two of his best shooters glued to the bench.
• The Pistons tallied just eight turnovers the entire game. By and large, this was a pretty clean game.
• It's a bit early to start watching the standings, but the Pistons fell to 2-4 on the season, dropping them to last in the Central Division and five games behind the undefeated Indiana Pacers. Let's hope they can end this slide Tuesday night at Golden State, another team that likes to light it up from beyond the arc.