Short-handed Portland Trail Blazers trounce Detroit Pistons
There wasn't much to worry about Tuesday night at the Moda Center for the Portland Trail Blazers, even without two starters in Damian Lillard (abdominal tendinopathy - injury management) and Norman Powell (right quad contusion), plus rotation-man Nassir Little (left ankle sprain).
The reason might have been the opponent: The 4-16 Detroit Pistons. And those young Pistons looked the part in the 110-92 Blazers win.
Portland gets back to .500 at 11-11 with the win and continues it's staggering home-road split of a 10-1 home record and a 1-10 record away from Moda.
All 10 wins have come after the Blazers dropped the season opener at home to the Sacramento Kings, giving Portland it's longest home winning streak since they won 12 home games between January and March in 2009.
Anfernee Simons got the start in place of Lillard and filled in nicely with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists.
With Powell out for a third consecutive game as well, that opened the door for some minutes for Dennis Smith Jr. and Ben McLemore. Smith had seven points while McLemore lit it up from deep, going 4 for 9 on 3-pointers and finished with 17 points in 18 minutes.
"I was really, really happy for Ben," Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. "That's kind of what we envisioned for Ben the whole time. He's one of those x-factor guys that can not play for a while and whenever you put him in he's just going to be who he is."
But CJ McCollum still led the way for Portland with 28 points while Jusuf Nurkic had 13 points and eight rebounds.
McCollum moved into fifth place in the Blazers' all-time scoring ranks now with 10,425 points in his career, passing Clifford Robinson who scored 10,405.
Fourth on the list is Terry Porter with 11,330, third is LaMarcus Aldridge with 12,562, second is Lillard with 17,244 and Clyde Drexler leads with 18,040.
On the defensive end, the Blazers played solid by keeping Detroit to only 92, tied for they're second fewest allowed this season with a 111-92 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 29 and the Blazers' lone road win, a 104-92 victory at the Houston Rockets on Nov. 12.
The game was never really in question either as the Blazers took a 21-20 lead late in the first quarter and never gave it back with no real threat from the Pistons (4-17) to take it back either.
The Blazers largest lead was 26 points at one point in the fourth quarter. Detroit's Cade Cunningham, the first overall pick of the 2021 NBA draft, had a career-high 26 points out of his first 21 games as a pro.
The hope now is that the home cooking can continue for the Blazers, who play 10 of their 14 games in December at home. And it'd be nice for the three players sitting out in Lillard, Powell and Little to feel better.
The Western Conference is a flat line right now after the top three teams in Phoenix, Golden State and Utah. Seven teams are currently at .500 or are only one game above .500 to fill out seeds 4-10.
And the Blazers' next opponent is not one of those teams 1-10 as they are set to host the 6-13 San Antonio Spurs at 7 p.m. Thursday.
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