Pistons vs Trailblazers Game Preview - Feb. 13, 2011
There is no timetable for when Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby will return to the Portland Trail Blazers' lineup. LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Fernandez are doing their best to make up for the loss of these two injured starters.
The Blazers look to win their fourth straight Sunday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where they will go for their sixth consecutive victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Roy and Camby, who have been sidelined the last 27 and 11 games, respectively, with knee injuries, both returned to practice on Wednesday. Neither player, however, is expected to play in this game.
Without the team's superstar guard and its best defender, Aldridge and Fernandez have helped the Blazers (29-24) win nine of 13 to remain in the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings.
Passed over for next week's All-Star game, Aldridge has scored at least 37 points in three of his last six games. After totaling a career-high 42 in Monday's 109-103 victory over Chicago, the fifth-year forward-center had 14 of his 37 in the final 12 minutes of Friday's 102-96 win over Toronto. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for his 26th double-double this season.
"He's an All-Star," Fernandez said of Aldridge, who has missed just five games over the last two-plus seasons due to injury. "The numbers say it. With all the injuries we have, LaMarcus takes responsibility on the court. Right now, he's an All-Star."
Fernandez is also playing like one - riding the best four-game scoring stretch of career with 77 points. The backup shooting guard hit his first eight shots, including a career high-tying six 3-pointers, and finished with 23 points Friday.
"Rudy's shooting in that first half gave us a cushion," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.
Detroit (20-34) had a far less impressive opening 24 minutes in its 106-92 loss to Miami on Friday. The Pistons missed eight layups and went 0 for 8 from long range as they went to the locker room down by 21 points.
"I know this sounds crazy but in the first half I thought we were playing hard," coach John Kuester said. "I walked in at halftime, and I know we were down by 20 but I looked around it, and you've been in this business long enough, you know when you're down 20 and guys just don't want to play. These guys played hard."
Still, the Pistons' defense faltered, allowing its third straight opponent to shoot better than 50 percent. Ending that stretch could be difficult against a Blazers team hitting 53.2 percent from the field and averaging 107.3 points during its winning streak.
Portland shot 50 percent and defeated the visiting Pistons 100-78 on Nov. 9. Aldridge had 19 points and 17 rebounds in that contest while Fernandez hit three 3s and added 13 points off the bench to spell Roy, who was limited to 21 minutes to receive treatment for his knee.
Pistons leading scorer Rodney Stuckey had a team-high 17 points in that loss and is averaging 19.3 in the last three matchups between these teams.
Stuckey had 20 and Richard Hamilton scored 25 in Portland's last visit to the Palace of Auburn Hills, a 97-93 Blazers victory Jan. 23, 2010.
Hamilton could miss his fourth consecutive game with a groin injury.
The Pistons are trying to avoid their first three-game home skid since a five-game slide from March 16-April 2.