Portland — The Pistons, searching for consistency and a rare back-to-back win, had the tall task of facing the Portland Trail Blazers in their first game of the new year.
The Blazers featured a familiar face in their starting lineup. Jerami Grant, who spent the previous two seasons with the Pistons, was facing his former team for the first time since he was traded during the offseason.
Grant had a virtuoso performance of 36 points on an efficient 12-of-17 shooting night to lead the Blazers to a 135-106 win at Moda Center on Monday night. The veteran forward was proficient from beyond the arc, finishing with five 3-pointers on eight attempts.
The game’s turning point occurred late in the second quarter when the Pistons began a scoring drought that lasted for the final three minutes of the half until the 10:18 mark of the third quarter. The Blazers scored 20 points in that stretch and Grant nailed three triples, including a 3-pointer to give Portland a nine-point lead with three seconds left in the first half.
Detroit (10-30) allowed the Blazers (19-16) to score 39 points in the second quarter and even worse, 41 points in the third quarter, which put the game out of reach going into the final period.
Portland guard Anfernee Simons also contributed to the Blazers’ scorching 3-point percentage (13-of-26) with four triples of his own. He totaled 30 points, five rebounds and five assists. Damian Lillard had a quiet scoring night with 19 points, but added 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals.
The Pistons were led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s 21 points, two rebounds and three assists. He scored a layup early in the third quarter to stop Detroit’s scoreless binge, but it didn’t stop the bleeding as the Blazers continued to find eas. Alec Burks had 19 points, three rebounds and three assists.
After totaling just one point in Saturday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jaden Ivey finished with 12 points and three rebounds, however, he struggled to take care of the ball with four turnovers on Saturday. He picked up two early fouls in the first quarter, forcing Pistons coach Dwane Casey to insert Cory Joseph into the lineup.
Jalen Duren, who failed to grab a single rebound against the Timberwolves, totaled five points and 11 rebounds against the Blazers. He pulled down six rebounds in the first quarter alone.
The Pistons led the NBA with 786 bench points in December, the most in any month by any team since the Washington Wizards in January 2020, and the 19th-most bench points in any month in NBA history.
Detroit totaled 42 bench points on Monday. It was an off night for the unit after scoring 65 points against the Timberwolves. Aside from Burks, only Hamidou Diallo tallied double figures with 11 points and three rebounds.
Portland guard Gary Payton II, who missed the first 34 games of the season due to offseason abdominal surgery, received a warm ovation from the crowd as he checked into the game with 3:17 left in the first quarter. It wasn’t long before he knocked down his first 3-pointer, to which he pleased the crowd even more.
Payton, known for his tenacious defense, had several hustle plays, including a steal and slam at the beginning of the fourth quarter. He finished with seven points, two rebounds and three assists in his Blazers debut.
The Pistons suffered another blow to its depth when Marvin Bagley III left the game in the first half after suffering a right hand injury. He was ruled out of the game late in the second quarter, finishing with just four points and two rebounds.
Monday’s loss marked the final game of Killian Hayes’ three-game suspension. He’ll make a needed return to the Pistons’ starting lineup on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors.