A big night from LaMarcus Aldridge has the Portland Trail Blazers in position to return home with a .500 record on their road trip and some renewed confidence in their disappointing play away from home.
Aldridge and the Trail Blazers look to make it seven consecutive wins against the Detroit Pistons when they close a six-game trip Saturday night.
After dropping to 2-5 away from home following a 92-89 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday, Portland bounced back with a 98-84 win over Toronto on Friday.
The Trail Blazers (9-6) shot 40.2 percent - only slightly better than the 38.0 percent they connected on against the Hawks. However, they had a strong defensive effort, outscoring Toronto 47-32 in the first half while holding the Raptors to 36.6 percent from the field.
With his team struggling on this trip, Aldridge stepped up with a season-high 33 points and a career-best 23 rebounds, including nine offensive. Portland had a 55-40 rebounding advantage.
“He put us on his back tonight and that’s what great players do,” Jamal Crawford said. “I could tell he was a little different, even in the warmups. He had a different focus. He wasn’t about to lose tonight.”
It’s the seventh time in Blazers history that a player has combined for at least 30 points and 20 rebounds. Aldridge came in averaging 23.3 points during the road trip, but just 9.8 in the first half of games. On Friday, he went into the break with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Portland has a good chance to end the trip on a positive note facing a Detroit team that has dropped four in a row overall and five straight at home. The Pistons (3-13), who haven’t beaten the Blazers since Feb. 2, 2008, lost 98-81 loss to Memphis on Friday.
Brandon Knight scored 22 points and Greg Monroe finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds. However, the Pistons were unable to recover from another slow start, scoring 12 points in the first quarter and 30 in the opening half.
Detroit is the NBA’s lowest-scoring team (84.8 points per game) and is averaging only 40.8 in the first half.
“We need to have the same kind of intensity (throughout games),” Ben Gordon said. “We can’t pick our spots. We’re not that good of a team yet.”
Maintaining their intensity isn’t the Pistons’ only problem though. Detroit committed a season-worst 25 turnovers Friday, the second time in three games it turned the ball over at least 20 times. It was also short-handed, playing without guards Rodney Stuckey (groin), Will Bynum (right foot) and forward Charlie Villanueva (right ankle).
Tayshaun Prince was held to 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting against the Grizzlies after scoring at least 20 points in three straight games.
Aldridge scored 36 points on 12 of 17 from the floor in a 105-100 win over Detroit last February in the teams’ most recent meeting.