Lillard Falls Just Short of First Triple-Double In Overtime Loss To Pistons

by Casey Holdahl
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AUBURN HILLS -- The Portland Trail Blazers finished up a three-game Eastern Conference road trip with a 120-113 overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills in front of a crowd of 13,502 Tuesday night at the Palace Of Auburn Hills.

"The overtime not withstanding -- obviously they dominated the overtime -- but we put ourselves in a position to win in regulation, fought back from a deficit," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "We've been in this situation many times where there are a lot of positives about the game but end up with a loss."

The Trail Blazers 24-35 overall and 10-22 on the road this season. The Pistons have now swept the season series with the Trail Blazers for the second straight year after winning the previous contest in double overtime at the Moda Center on January 8. Portland is now 3-4 in overtime games this season.

Portland led by as many as 14 in the first half, though the game would remain within single digits for much of the night. The Pistons would eventually go on to take an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter, and looked as though they might end up pulling away toward the end of regulation. But 13-point fourth quarter for Lillard, capped by a game-tying layup with 2.8 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, would be enough to send the game to overtime.

But as was the case for most of the night, turnovers would negate Portland's opportunities to come away with their first victory. The Trail Blazers committed three of their 24 turnovers in the overtime while shooting 1-of-8 from the field to finish with just four points in the extra time, resulting in the eight-point loss.

"You turn the ball over that much on the road, you're going to have a hard time winning," said Lillard. "But I thought we played a good game, we competed hard. I thought we had control of the game for a lot of the game but they went on one of those runs. I said earlier today that we play good games against them and they always have that one burst against us, take over the game, and they did it again tonight, except we were able to weather it and force overtime. We got to overtime and, on the road, you (turn the ball over), you give team's life and they took advantage of the overtime opportunity. They jumped out on us and we just couldn't recover."

Portland was led by Lillard, who came within one assist of the first triple-double of his career, finishing with 34 points on 13-of-25 shooting, 11 rebounds and nine assists in 41 minutes.

"Towards the end a couple guys was like 'You need two assists,'" said Lillard. "As you guys know, I don't play for a triple-double. If I wanted to I could go out there and force a triple-double a few times but I just wanted to keep the game honest, keep being aggressive, play the right way. A couple opportunities came, we had a couple easy ones that we should have made that we didn't, a couple open jumpers that I made the right play, we just didn't make (the shot). At a certain point, I felt like I needed to score points, I felt like I needed to get going and be aggressive, so I wasn't thinking to myself 'Ah, I'm not going to shoot right now, just get this one more assist.' I had to do what I had to do to give us a chance to win the game."

McCollum finished with 25 points, four rebounds and two assists in 44 minutes. Jusuf Nurkić went for 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a block in 35 minutes, and Allen Crabbe added 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting off the bench to round out Portland's double-digit scorers.

The Pistons got a career-high 37 points in 42 minutes from Marcus Morris, who also added eight rebounds and six assists.

“He’s a good one-on-one player and he has a high release," said Stotts of Morris. "The way their team is, it’s difficult to double team because he gets in different areas so you’re kind of stuck playing one-on-one and the thing is, he made his perimeter shots. If he’s making contested perimeter shots, you’ve got to hand it to him. He can get it going like he did tonight.”

Andre Drummond put up a double-double, his 40th of the season, with 19 points and 15 rebounds in 30 minutes, while Ish Smith and Tobias Harris combined to score 23 points off the bench in the win.

With the three-game trip now complete, the Trail Blazers return to Portland to host the Oklahoma City Thunder in a nationally-televised game Thursday night at the Moda Center.

"It's disappointing but we've got to move forward," said Lillard. "Fortunately for us, we're still in position to get the 8th spot because everybody else is losing as well. We can't dwell on it, we can't get down about it, we've got to keep fighting. As long as that opportunity is there and that door is open, we've got to keep working towards that and that's what we're going to do."

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm.