Energized Pistons with Griffin host Blazers
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Blake Griffin has re-energized the Detroit Pistons franchise. The Pistons have won the first three games of a six-game homestand since acquiring Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers. They can get back to the .500 mark if they continue their streak against Portland on Monday night.
The early returns on the power pairing of Griffin and All-Star center Andre Drummond have been promising. Griffin wasn't eligible to play on Tuesday, the day after the trade, since all players involved in the deal needed to pass their physicals.
His new teammates were so pumped up, they defeated Cleveland without him, 125-114. Griffin made his Pistons debut on Thursday and contributed 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a 104-102 squeaker over Memphis.
He had 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 111-107 victory over Miami Saturday but shot 6-for-19 from the field.
Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy blamed himself for Griffin's offensive struggles. Griffin's only points in the second half came on a 3-pointer in the final minute.
"I have to get it figured out offensively," he said. "I'm not helping him or us a lot. You could actually see today in the early fourth quarter, we were actually a lot smoother when he was out because we were just playing. I've got this great player now and we're just sort of playing to him all the time and the defense is all loaded up. Blake felt the same way talking after the game. We just need to play, get the ball moving and he'll find his way."
Drummond picked up the slack with the 19th 20-20 game of his career. He had 23 points and 20 rebounds, including an alley-oop dunk from Griffin that helped seal the victory.
"Andre was tremendous," Van Gundy said. "He's (Griffin) drawing all the attention, they're not getting quite as much, so it opens things up."
Prior to the Griffin trade, the Pistons (25-26) lost eight straight. They're now a half-game behind Philadelphia for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We added an All-Star caliber player to our team and boom, we take off a little bit," forward Stanley Johnson said. "We're a couple games behind where we want to be, so we've got to keep pushing."
Portland (29-24) is coming off a heartbreaking loss in Boston. Al Horford made a buzzer-beating shot to give the Celtics a 97-96 victory Sunday afternoon. The Blazers have lost two straight and will try to salvage the finale of a three-game road swing.
"Tough loss. I thought both teams ended up making a lot of plays down at the end. Obviously, it could have gone either way," coach Terry Stotts told the team's website. "Horford made a well-defended shot, and they had the ball last."
The Blazers led 54-38 at halftime despite a subpar outing from Damian Lillard, who shot 6-for-19 while scoring 21 points.
"Every shot I take, I expect it to go in," Lillard told the team's website. "Tonight they weren't going in from the start of the game. The first quarter I got bumped on my left knee and it was a little bit stiff the rest of the game."
Updated February 4, 2018