PORTLAND — In the words of point guard Damian Lillard, the Trail Blazers did not “play around with the game” Friday night at the Moda Center.
Behind big performance from their All-Stars, the Blazers handed the lowly Detroit Pistons their ninth straight loss 118-99.
Portland’s stars got off to the start they needed. Lillard and Aldridge combined for 23 points which helped give Portland an 11-point lead after the first quarter.
Lillard started off the game hot with 13 first-quarter points and then turned on the jets in the fourth quarter when the Pistons were still hanging around.
Back-to-back Lillard 3’s in the fourth pushed the lead to 20 points with 5:47 left, and it allowed Aldridge to enjoy some for the rest of the game a head of a five-game in seven-day road trip.
After a slow 2-for-13 outing in Wednesday’s win against the Rockets, Arron Afflalo came out hitting his first two shots of the game on his way to a 15-point night.
After being concerned with how he was going to fit in with the team coming in, he showed no proof of such thinking Friday night.
“When we see him more comfortable, it make us more comfortable,” Lillard said. “We’re a better team when he’s comfortable. When he’s not trying to fit in, he’s being himself.”
Stotts showed the confidence to go with five bench players on the floor at one time in the second quarter with a line-up of Steve Blake, CJ McCollum, Dorell Wright, Meyers Leonard and Chris Kaman.
Leonard finished with 15 points and seven rebounds including seven points in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of reach for Detroit.
Blake had seven assists and recorded no other stats of any kind, the first time that has happened in NBA history, according to Basketball-Reference.
“I’ve never seen a line like that,” head coach Terry Stotts said post game about Blake’s contribution.
However, Leonard’s most memorable contribution to the game did not show up in the box score.
On a Detroit transition lay-up in garbage time, Leonard said that he gave Shawne Williams “a little push in the back” so that he wouldn’t get an offensive rebound. Williams apparently took umbrage with the play and got right into Leonard’s face.
“I gave him a little push in the back, but he didn’t appreciate it too much,” Leonard said.”
And then as Williams started to walk away, he was met by Leonard’s best friend on the team Joel Freeland. Williams then head-butted Freeland, and Freeland responded with hitting his head on Williams’ chest.
“It’s not just him,” Freeland said. “We’re a team and a team has each other’s backs.”
Freeland and Williams were both subsequently ejected after replays although the crowd went wild when they showed Freeland on the big screen.
For the newcomer Afflalo, it’s all positive.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Afflalo said. “It’s encouraging. You’re with your teammates and your coaches more than you are with your family. And you have to stick up for them like they’re your brother. That’s the type of chemistry and feel a that a team should have.”
Frenchman Nicolas Batum was asked if Freeland’s headbutt to the chest reminded him of fellow Frenchman Zinedine Zidane’s notorious moment in the 2006 World Cup, he saw similarities.
“A little bit, yeah,” Batum said. “Not that hard, but a little bit. We stay connected, we got each other’s back.”
The 3-pointers kept coming for the Blazers and the Pistons didn’t have any hope of stopping it.
It was the second time this season the Blazers shot 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from long range.