Pistons lose to Trail Blazers, point finger at officials
Portland — What looked to be the last vestige of hope for the Pistons to turn their season around has become another sign of disappointment.
If their playoff hopes weren’t already dashed, the Pistons are nearing the end of their rope, needing to tie a knot to salvage anything from their six-game western road trip. They lost the first two games after falling into double-digit first-half deficits.
Make it 3-for-3.
The Pistons’ familiar refrain of falling behind in the second quarter continued Saturday — with a 17-point deficit just before halftime — and they couldn’t get over the hill in the second half, falling to the Portland Trail Blazers, 100-87, at Moda Center.
Andre Drummond had 18 points and 22 rebounds, Blake Griffin 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists and Reggie Bullock 13 points for the Pistons (30-39), who have lost 13 of their last 16 games and are 6 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot.
They’ll need a lot of help if they’re going to make a run at the postseason.
And their next two games are the best chances to change their dwindling fortunes, with games at Sacramento and Phoenix before they finish their longest road trip of the season against the West-leading Houston Rockets.
The Pistons were held under 90 points for the second time in their last three games on the trip, but went after the officials for not making calls.
“A big part of (the Blazers’ defense — they play very hard; I don’t mean to take anything away from them — but when you can get away with playing like that and get screwed that badly by the officials, your defense is going to be pretty good,” Van Gundy said. “Our guys were fighting hard and playing hard. I’ve gotten on them at times, but they played really hard and fought really hard.
“Portland played hard, too, but it’s a lot easier to play hard when you can get away with everything they got away with.”
Trailing by 17 to start the fourth quarter, the Pistons made a run, with a hook by Drummond and a jumper by Dwight Buycks to pull within 80-67. They got within single digits for the first time since the first quarter.
The Blazers (43-26) won their 12th straight behind Damian Lillard (24 points, seven rebounds and eight assists) and C.J. McCollum (16 points and six rebounds).
The Pistons had a 10-2 run, with a 3-pointer by Bullock and a three-point play by Griffin, a tip-in by Drummond and a pair of free throws from Luke Kennard (12 points) to pull within 91-84 at the 3:51 mark.
They never got closer.
Al-Farouq Aminu (10 points) answered with a 3-pointer and Lillard scored the next six points, with a lay-in, a free throw after Van Gundy got a technical foul for arguing a no-call and a 3-pointer, for a 100-84 lead with 2:12 remaining.
That was just after Van Gundy got a technical foul for arguing no-calls.
“We have to do better at not letting it get to that point as far as getting frustrated to the point of getting technicals — but it’s a part of the game,” forward Anthony Tolliver said. “It’s a part of what makes great players great sometimes, is that the amount of effort and amount of fight you put into it, so you don’t get mad at whenever you don’t feel like you’re getting fair calls.”