Trail Blazers Finish Trip, March By Pulling Away In Detroit

by Casey Holdahl
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DETROIT -- The Portland Trail Blazers finished the month of March with two double-digit victories: one on the first day of the month and the other on the last.

Portland completed a perfect 4-0 trip and improved their record in the month of March to 11-4 with a 124-101 victory versus the Detroit Pistons in front of a crowd of 750 Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena.

“Winning on the road is still an important thing,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It’s tough to do with the travel and everything. To get these four wins, that was our goal going into it. This is the second time we’ve swept a road trip -- we went 3-0 on a previous road trip -- so I like how we’re playing.”

The Trail Blazers are now 29-18 overall and 15-9 on the road this season. Portland has now won four-straight, all on the road, and seven of their last 10.

“We’re finding a way to win games, which is the most important thing,” said Damian Lillard. “The thing that I feel the best about is I feel like, regardless of what people say about or defense, it feels like it’s improving. I think we’ve had a few dominant stretches on the defensive end without us playing great offensively, so it wasn’t like our offense was going great so we picked up our energy on defense."

Though on Wednesday the offense was, in fact, going great. After a nip and tuck first half that saw the Pistons take a one-point lead into the intermission, the Trail Blazers came out on fire from the field and from three in the third quarter.

Behind a 17-2 run from the 11:30 to 7:42 marks of that third, Portland took their first double-digit lead of the night at 68-56. By time the quarter was over, Lillard had 16 points in 12 minutes n 5-of-6 shooting and the Trail Blazers had shot 71 percent from the field and 63 percent from three to outscore the Pistons by nine and take a 87-79 lead into the fourth.

And while they didn’t shoot as good of a percentage in the fourth, Portland put up more point and outscored Detroit by 15 thanks to that improving defense. They limited the Pistons to 0-of-4 shooting from three, turned four turnovers into five points and grabbed twice as many rebounds to pull away. And on the other end, they went a perfect 13-of-13 from the free throw line and made half of their attempts from the field to finish off the game and the trip.

“We did have a good third quarter,” said Stotts. “To be honest, I liked our second and fourth quarter because defensively we were locked in in both of those quarters, held them to 19 and 22 (points) in both those quarters. We did stretch it out in the third but I really liked the second and the fourth.”

Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 33 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field, 5-of-7 shooting from three and 10-of-11 shooting from the line to go with 10 assists, four rebounds and a steal in 36 minutes.

CJ McCollum shot 50 percent from the field and from three to finish with 24 points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block in 35 minutes. Carmelo Anthony came off the bench to add 16 points and three rebounds.

Robert Covington finished off a great month -- he shot 50 percent from the field and 49 percent from three in March -- with 16 points, six rebounds, three steals, an assist and a block in 30 minutes.

“First half was a little bit back and forth, but second half, we kind of stretched out the lead,” said Covington. “We kind of never looked back. They made their runs, of course, but we never allowed them to make their runs even to get back into the game all the way.”

Norman Powell, in just his third game as a Trail Blazer, went 5-of-10 from the field for 14 points, though his defense -- he finished with three steals and two blocks -- is where he’s made his great impact.

Enes Kanter rounded out Portland’s double-digit scorers with 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting, eight rebounds and an assist in 26 minutes.

Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Hamidou Diallo came off the bench to add 10 points on 7-of-shooting.

The Trail Blazers now return to Portland to play a back-to-back starting with the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.


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