Trail Blazers Vs. Pistons Preview
November 11, 2013
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
While LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard have been one of the NBA's top scoring tandems this season, the Portland Trail Blazers are more than just a two-man team.
Wesley Matthews is also giving opponents something to think about.
The Trail Blazers seek their fifth win in six games Monday night against a Detroit Pistons team looking to avoid a sixth straight loss in Portland.
One of only five teams with two players averaging more than 20 points, the Blazers (4-2) have gotten a combined 43.8 per game from Aldridge and Lillard. Portland, though, has also shown enough depth to compensate when one of them has an off game.
Lillard matched a career low with four points on 1-of-15 shooting Saturday, but Matthews made up for it with a season-best 21 in a 96-85 victory at Sacramento. Aldridge finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds.
"We have a deeper team this year and guys can pick up the slack," said Lillard, who is scoring 20.5 per game despite shooting 38.3 percent. "That's what makes us a better team."
Matthews will try to extend his hot streak after going 8 for 11 from the field against the Kings, including 3 for 5 from 3-point range. He's provided a strong third option, averaging 19.8 points and hitting 15 of 26 from long range during the 4-1 stretch.
Behind Matthews, the Blazers rank near the top of the NBA in 3-point percentage (41.5). He totaled 36 points in two games against the Pistons (2-3) last season.
"Everybody talks about LaMarcus and Lillard, but Wesley Matthews is the guy who has been playing very well for them," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "He shoots phenomenal from the field and the 3-point line."
Aldridge, the team's leading scorer at 23.3 per game, had no trouble versus the Pistons in 2012-13. The two-time All-Star posted 32 points and 10 rebounds in a 108-101 loss at Detroit on Nov. 26 before getting 31 and 12 in a 112-101 home win March 16.
He'll try to continue that trend against slumping Detroit, which has allowed an average of 109.0 points in a pair of home losses to Indiana and Oklahoma City.
With Josh Smith and Andre Drummond battling foul trouble, the Pistons couldn't keep up with the deeper Thunder in a 119-110 setback Friday. Smith finished with a season-high 25 points before fouling out, while Greg Monroe (20 points, 15 rebounds) and Brandon Jennings (22 points, 11 assists) added double-doubles.
"They kept making plays, and they kept getting to the free throw line," said Monroe, averaging career bests of 17.8 points and 11.8 rebounds. "It is hard to win games like that."
Monroe, who had a combined 34 points and 19 rebounds in last season's meetings, will try to capitalize against a Portland defense that is allowing 48.0 points in the paint per game - which ranks near the bottom of the league.
Smith also has been productive versus the Trail Blazers, averaging 17.4 points and 11.6 rebounds during a run of seven straight double-doubles while with Atlanta.
The Pistons, opening a four-game Western trip, haven't won in Portland since March 14, 2007.