Josh Smith posts up Trail Blazers, but Portland eventually shoots down Pistons

Portland Trail Blazers 111 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF 39 MIN | 7-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 17 PTS | -14

Monroe ran the court well to get good looks before the defense set, and that obviously improved his offensive efficiency. Against a set defense, Monroe wasn’t nearly as productive. Monroe struggled defending Aldridge, too. That undermined an overall positive offensive game.

Josh Smith, SF 46 MIN | 13-17 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 31 PTS | 0

It’s amazing how good Smith can be when he’s not wasting his talent shooting jumpers. Smith repeatedly posted up Nicolas Batum with tremendous success. Then, Smith repeatedly posted up Wesley Matthews with good pretty high success. Smith had a little trouble defending Batum on the perimeter, but when defending LaMarcus Aldridge, Smith helped Detroit’s cause. Aldridge didn’t exactly struggle, but for a fringe MVP candidate, he was held somewhat in check with Smith on him.

Andre Drummond, C 44 MIN | 6-15 FG | 1-5 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +7

Couple awesome lob finishes, a few steals and blocks. No big deal from the Eastern Conference’s best center. Really. Despite an impressive stat line, this was a relatively underwhelming game from Drummond. It’s getting tough to assess him without weighing giant expectations against him.

Brandon Jennings, PG 45 MIN | 6-16 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -7

Jennings did a good job using his dribble to create space, including an awesome step-back 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring in overtime. He’s a good ball-handler. What he did with that space was more hit than miss, but the split was definitely influenced by whether he could go left or right. The left-hander still has issues with his right hand. Jennings also played his best defense in some time, though that’s a relative accomplishment. He didn’t necessarily harass Damian Lillard or Portland’s other guards, but Jennings made a real effort to stick near them. Sometimes, just being in the vicinity can be enough to cause a miss.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +14

Caldwell-Pope was testing his in-between game, running off picks and taking mid-range jumpers. It didn’t exactly inspire confidence. He’s probably better off improving his spot-ups before diversifying.

Josh Harrellson, PF 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4

Harrellson was a little too slow to defend the range of Aldridge or the athleticism of Thomas Robinson. Harrellson did break up a lob attempt though when he didn’t have to cover much ground.

Kyle Singler, SF 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -10

Singler kept drifting toward the interior defensively — I’m not sure how much of that was by design — and he doesn’t have the physical strength to play down there. That meant several fouls. Singler took an effective backseat role in an offense that was humming most of the game.

Chauncey Billups, SG 17 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +16

Billups had an extremely positive effect on the Pistons’ offense, keeping the ball moving. Defensively, he made no noticeable impact, which I’ll take 10 times out of 10 from him.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 37 MIN | 7-18 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -12

Stuckey didn’t shoot particularly well, but he had some tough-luck misses. His defense wasn’t bad either, but he also didn’t up his defensive intensity against such a good offense. Lillard made his game-winner over Stuckey.

Maurice Cheeks

Are fourth-quarter problems a coaching issue? They seem like a coaching issue, but it’s difficult to know from afar. The Pistons blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead, but it seemed more to do with the Trail Blazers asserting their advantage in well-fitting talent than anything Cheeks did wrong. Cheeks deserves credit for milking Smith in the post for so much of the game.

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Tags: Andre Drummond Brandon Jennings Chauncey Billups Damian Lillard Greg Monroe Josh Harrellson Josh Smith Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Kyle Singler LaMarcus Aldridge Maurice Cheeks Rodney Stuckey Will Bynum

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