“We relaxed,” said Andre Miller regarding Portland’s near slip to Detroit Wednesday, racking up 10 points and 11 assists for the Trail Blazers in their 87-81 victory over the Pistons. Miller had no excuses. Detroit was down by as many as 20 points in the second half, before turning up the heat to close to 78-77 with just over a minute left.
Detroit made it 78-75 with 1:29 to go after Charlie Villanueva knocked down a pair of jumpers. Followed up by a bad pass by Portland’s Steve Blake, Villanueva’s fast-break layup cut it to 78-77.
Blake redeemed himself, however, by draining a 3-pointer with 25.2 seconds left.
In the end it came down to free-throw prowess before a Villanueva tip-in put the Pistons within two points (83-81) with 10 seconds remaining. It’s as close as Detroit would come to pulling out a victory on the West Coast.
“That fourth quarter, we turned it around,” Villanueva said. “But we need to play like that the whole game.”
The Pistons are 0-2 on a four-game road swing.
Villanueva laid down 20 points and Rodney Stuckey added 21 for the Pistons, who were playing the second of back-to-back games. Detroit was coming off a 106-93 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles Tuesday night. It, too, went south on them late in the fourth quarter.
Detroit is sorely hurting without franchise players Richard “Rip” Hamilton, who has a sprained right ankle, and Tayshaun Prince, who has a ruptured disk.