The Pistons were quick to put their Sunday afternoon loss in the rearview mirror on Monday night, as they defeated the visiting Portland Trailblazers 108-101. What had killed the Pistons on Sunday against the Knicks was New York's "can't miss" attitude–the Knicks shot nearly fifty percent–and the Pistons must've taken notes because the Pistons put on a shooting clinic against the Trailblazers Monday night. Seven Pistons had double figure scoring numbers, including all five starters, and as a team the Pistons shot 52.5% from the field with a ridiculous 60.0% mark from beyond the arch. Coming into the game with a worst in the league, 12-game losing streak against Western Conference teams, the Pistons needed every bit of their high mark shooting as the Trailblazers didn't let them walk away with it. But in the end, the Pistons played hard for 48 minutes and walked off the Palace floor with a 108-101 win.
Second Year Man vs. First Year Standout
Before the game, the matchup many had their eye on was the pairing of Brandon Knight and "Rookie of the Year" frontrunner, Damian Lillard. Lillard, who excels in the pick and roll, went into Monday's contest averaging over 19 points per game. Not to be out done, Knight was coming into the game on a scoring tear of his own; averaging 18.5 points in the last two games against New York and Toronto.
At the risk of sounding corny, it was "Knight's Night" on Monday. Knight had a team-high 26 points and Lillard had only 12 points, many of which didn't come until late in the game. Knight was looking for his shot on Monday, splitting defenders with his dribble and getting to the rim for the lay-in. For the third game in a row, Knight put his off-hand on display. Going left a number of times on Monday, Knight was making left-handed lay-ins and high, off-the-glass runners over a forest of Portland defenders with ease. Knocking down three, three pointers helped bolster his scoring numbers as well, but all of his long-range shots were good decisions and in rhythm.
Defensively, Knight did a good job of containing Lillard by pushing the slashing guard away from the lane. If Lillard did get left or right off of a pick, Knight was quick to recover and the Pistons were quick to help; as Lillard was forced into a good number of fading jumpers and off-balanced runners.
Singler Could Not Miss
Kyle Singler's ability to shoot the basketball was well-documented long before he put on the Pistons red, white and blue, but Monday's game would have been more than enough proof for anyone who'd never seen the Oregon native lace 'em up before. Shooting over 80% from the field, Singler only missed one shot on Monday. He was 3-for-3 from three point land, and 6-for-7 from the field (his only miss was a tap-back, surrounded by three Portland defenders). As he always does, Singler was moving around the floor, setting screens for his teammates and opening himself up for the open jump shots that he so rarely misses.
Singler also recorded 10 boards on the night, making Monday's game Singler's first double-double in the NBA.
Bench Plays Well Again
For the second game in a row, Lawrence Frank opted to go with Charlie Villanueva instead of the struggling Jonas Jerebko. And for the second game in a row, Charlie V. made the most of his opportunity. Logging 10 points in 15 minutes on the floor, Charlie V. was looking for his shot as he did against the Knicks on Sunday. It only took Charlie V. six shots to get his 10 points, going 4-for-6 from the field including two three pointers, and none of his shots were forced or the product of selfish basketball. More importantly, Charlie V. played an improved game on the defensive end of the floor and was a presence on the boards; pulling down three rebounds.
In another rotational change, Lawrence Frank decided to keep Will Bynum on the bench in the second half and instead bring in Rodney Stuckey to handle the second-unit point guard duties. Stuckey put in 11 points, with one three pointer, but more impressively was Stuckey's assist numbers. With Singler and Charlie V. on the floor, Stuckey made it a point of finding the hot hand. He was using his dribble penetration to draw the defense in, then would kick it out for a jump shot from Singler or the next open man. Like the entire Pistons offensive attack, Rodney Stuckey was playing strong team basketball.
The Pistons will take on the Phoenix Suns for their final meeting of the season on Wednesday. The Suns (6-8), were considered to be one of the more winnable games the Pistons were dealt during their early-season winless road swing, but the Suns beat the Pistons in the second game of the season in Phoenix. If the Pistons can continue to play the solid team defense that was so effective against Portland, while also getting the same balanced offense out of their starters and bench, the Pistons should be able to beat the Suns. Expect the Pistons to beat the Suns, helping the Pistons to their first back-to-back wins of the season. The Pistons take on the Phoenix Suns at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday at 7:30 PM.
Greg Monroe had another double-double, scoring 20 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge lead all scorers with 32 points. Aldridge also pulled down 10 rebounds for a double-double.
The Pistons won the ever-important "Points in the Paint" war, leading the Trailblazers 56-36 points.
Tags: Basketball, Brandon Knight, Charlie Villanueva, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, Lawrence Frank, NBA, Rodney Stuckey
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