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Trail Blazers pull away in fourth, beat Pistons

Dec 1, 2008 - 12:57 AM By Chuck Klonke PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- The Portland Trail Blazers brought some of their home-court magic on their road trip this time.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and Brandon Roy added 19 as the Trail Blazers pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn a 96-85 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

Portland, which is 7-0 at home this season, pulled to 5-6 away from the Rose Garden in the first of five straight road games.

"We've really struggled on the road against the good teams," Roy said. "We haven't really played badly, but we haven't been able to close. (Sunday) we had a really good focus and we were able to close the game.

"Even when they made a run in the fourth quarter we stayed together, played defense and got what we wanted offensively. It's a sign of maturity. We don't have a lot yet, but we're getting better."

Roy scored five points and Aldridge chipped in four during an 18-3 run over a six-minute span in the fourth quarter.

Trailing, 77-75, after a pair of free throws by Arron Afflalo with 8:42 left in the game, Steve Blake gave the Blazers the lead back with a 3-pointer to spark the rally.

Rookie Greg Oden, who scored 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, capped the spurt with a pair of free throws with 2:28 left that put the Blazers on top, 93-80.

"To come into Detroit and beat them on their court - it has to be a gritty effort by anybody," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Tonight, we were able to finish. Teams have made runs like that before and we've given in to the pressure. Tonight, after Detroit made its runs, our guys were calm."

Portland shot 52 percent (36-of-69) from the floor, including 7-of-17 from beyond the arc en route to its fourth consecutive win.

Detroit coach Michael Curry put the blame for the defeat on his starting five.

"Our starters put us in a hole and we battled back all night," Curry said. "This game is on our starters. When we battled back, there were times we had to give our guys off the bench a blow. When we put the starters back in we never got great things going."

Detroit guard Allen Iverson returned to the starting lineup after a one-game banishment to the bench for missing practice and finished 2-of-9 from the floor for nine points.

"My rhythm is not there and this is kind of a different situation for me, because I'm sitting more than I usually do," Iverson said. "I think it's just that my rhythm isn't where I want it to be. I'm positive and I have a lot of confidence in my game. I know how to come back."

Portland dominated the first quarter, shooting 61 percent from the field while holding Detroit to 24 percent. The Blazers also had a 12-5 rebounding advantage as they built a 25-13 lead.

It was the lowest-scoring first quarter of the season for Detroit.

"I established things inside early, going to the basket and getting to the line," said Aldridge, who had 13 points in the opening quarter. "As the game went on, I was able to go to my jump shot more. It has felt better the last few games, and I'm getting more confidence in it."

Aldridge was going against the Pistons' Rasheed Wallace, a player the Blazers' power forward has patterned his game after.

"(Wallace) was being aggressive with him and LaMarcus was being aggressive back," Roy said. "Instead of trying to play finesse, you have to be ready to play a more physical, tough game. That got him going."

Portland extended its lead to 28-14 early in the second quarter before the Pistons went on a 15-0 run to go ahead, 31-30, with just over six minutes remaining in the first half.

The Blazers quickly regained the advantage and led, 50-42, at halftime on a 3-pointer and a layup at the buzzer by Sergio Rodriguez.

A 19-7 run bridging the third and fourth quarters - capped by Afflalo's free throws - gave Detroit its last lead.