The Detroit Pistons went into Portland on Saturday evening without the services of Jerami Grant (knee). Everyone knew it would be a tall task to beat a playoff team in the Trail Blazers.
That proved to be exceedingly true.
The Blazers defeated the Pistons 118-103. The Blazers won the first and third quarters by 10 points each, and that was pretty much the difference, and any time the Pistons threatened to make it a game, the Blazers would push down a bit on the gas and extend the lead back out again.
Not only did the Blazers get 27 points from Damian Lillard and 26 points from CJ McCollum, Enes Kanter did some pretty impressive stuff on the glass, setting a Blazers franchise record for rebounds in a game with, yes, 30 rebounds:
Enes Kanter has broken the Blazers single-game record for rebounds.— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 11, 2021
That’s also the most rebounds by any player since 2018. pic.twitter.com/YMoc8NzkQe
Of Kanter’s 30 rebounds, 12 were offensive boards.
If it weren't for Saddiq Bey’s 12 first-quarter points, this game would have likely gotten out of hand very early. Detroit didn’t have much else going for itself other than Saddiq taking over the offense.
Bey had a smooth pull-up jumper as Enes Kanter didn’t step up in coverage (also, good concentration from Bey as Derrick Jones Jr. made a late contest):
Saddiq Bey is cookin pic.twitter.com/ONHl1Aj3si— Pistons Talk (@Pistons__Talk) April 11, 2021
The Pistons bench brigade of Frank Jackson, Hamidou Diallo, Isaiah Stewart and Sekou Doumbouya were key in helping nearly erase all of a 16-point deficit as the Pistons drew within a point late in the first half. Doumbouya ran the floor with reckless abandon and was rewarded, and was decisive and seemingly confident in his 12 minutes. Frank Jackson was a certified bucket in nine minutes, scoring 11, including two quick hitters from deep.
The Blazers stepped on the gas the last couple minutes before the break, forcing turnovers and getting some extra juice from Lillard and Kanter to pop their lead back to nine at 59-50. Kanter was his usual rebound-everything-in-his-vicinity self, corralling 16 boards in 18 first-half minutes, to go along with 11 points and a couple of blocks. Kanter is averaging a double-double on the season. Lillard and McCollum combined for 26 points in half number one.
Coming right out in the third, Portland blitzed the Pistons and pushed the lead close to 20. Portland’s length, veteran savvy, and plain superior skill level was too much.
Saben Lee, who did not play in the opening half or at all in the previous game, saw action in the quarter and was tasked with running the offense and guarding Lillard. Lee held up nicely on both assignments. Lee stuck with Lillard as well as one could, but Lillard hit a few tough, very Lillard-esque jumpers over him. No surprise there.
Killian Hayes’ seven first-half minutes were riddled with turnovers and poor decisions. His first minutes of the second half came at the start the fourth. Hayes finished with 17 minutes played, two free throws and four turnovers.
Jahlil Okafor made his first appearance in the fourth as well, and with the lineup Detroit had on the court for his first couple minutes, he was very possibly the number one option. Between Okafor, Hayes, Cory Joseph, Doumbouya and Diallo, offense was a bit of a struggle.
However, Detroit didn’t crumble until very late. Josh Jackson was a big reason why. He was possibly the best Piston tonight. While he was his normal energetic self on both ends, he also shot the rock efficiently. He drilled 5-of-6 from downtown on his way to 21 points. He picked his spots and mostly avoided some of his usual ill-advised quick hitters.
Josh’s 3-ball with about four and a half minutes left brought Detroit within 14. Portland would go on to close out the game without a struggle. Detroit could have wilted at many stages in the second half, but they competed on both ends.
Detroit will be right back at it with a tilt against the Los Angeles Clippers (and some old Pistons friends) at 10 p.m. EST on Sunday.