PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers aren’t giving up yet.
The Blazers are still in a crowded fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Utah Jazz are a half-game back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final spot, while Portland and Dallas are three games out.
Taking advantage of Saturday night’s visit by the struggling Pistons, the Blazers got 31 points and 12 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge to hand Detroit its eighth straight loss with a 112-101 victory.
But the Blazers are now staring at a five-game road trip, which kicks off Monday in Philadelphia.
“This is a make-or-break road trip for us,” Aldridge said. “I keep saying, we’re right there. If we play good on this trip than anything is possible.”
The Blazers won two of a three-game homestand.
Rodney Stuckey had a season-high 32 points for the Pistons, who have yet to win a game in March. They’ve lost 11 of their last 12.
After trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, the Blazers took a 90-81 lead on Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer with 8:33 remaining in the game. Portland extended the lead to 99-87 on J.J. Hickson’s dunk.
The Pistons scored 10 in a row to close within 99-97 on Will Bynum’s running jumper with 2:54 left, but Batum answered with another 3-pointer. After Stuckey made a layup, Aldridge’s hook shot ended Detroit’s threat and put the Blazers in front 104-99 with 1:45 left.
“We did not come up with plays at the end of the game,” Pistons forward Kyle Singler said. “To their credit, Portland played well. They are a tough team to beat at home and when Aldridge is playing like he did tonight, they’re tough.”
The Blazers (31-34) have won nine of their last 12 at the Rose Garden and were coming off a 105-90 victory at home over the Knicks on Thursday night.
“Hopefully it’s a little momentum for us going out on the road,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
Detroit (23-45) was coming off a 105-97 loss at Golden State on Wednesday. The Pistons were without guard Brandon Knight for the second straight game because of a sprained left ankle. Knight is averaging 13.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
Detroit went ahead 21-18 on Jose Calderon’s 3-pointer late in the first quarter, as Portland sat Aldridge because of two early fouls. The Pistons extended the lead to 28-20 on Jonas Jerebko’s layup.
Bynum’s jumper pushed Detroit’s lead to 50-41, but Portland scored the final six points of the half to close the margin to 57-52. Stuckey led all players with 17 first-half points.
Stuckey, who sustained a bad cut to his forehead during the game after a head-to-head collision, has been starting in place of Knight.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to do this the last couple of games, and it’s been working,” he said. “But more importantly, though, we lost. We just have to come out and get more stops defensively, because that’s what hurt us tonight.”
The Blazers opened the second half with an 11-2 run, capped by Aldridge’s jumper, to go in front 63-59.
Greg Monroe’s layup pulled the Pistons into a 73-all tie before Bynum’s high-arching running jumper gave Detroit back the lead.
Portland opened the fourth quarter with Aldridge’s jump shot to go ahead 79-75. It was Aldridge’s fifth game this season with more than 30 points and 10 rebounds.
Hickson had 18 points and 15 rebounds and all of Portland starters were in double figures.
Bynum had 23 points off the bench.
The Pistons continue to play under assistant coach Brian Hill. Head coach Lawrence Frank did not accompany the team on the road trip to attend to be with his wife, who is ill.
“As far as the character and the work of our guys, I thought they played their hearts out tonight,” Hill said.
Notes: Singler is a native Oregonian and led South Medford High School to the state championship his senior year. He was greeted with warm applause from the Rose Garden crowd during introductions, but wound up with just four points for Detroit. “I didn’t really play up to my level but it was fun playing in front of this crowd,” said Singer, who had about a dozen family members and friends at the game. … Director Gus Van Sant, Academy Award nominee for Good Will Hunting and Milk, was at the game. … The Pistons won the other meeting between the teams this season, 108-101 on Nov. 26 in Detroit. … The Blazers have won five straight against Detroit at the Rose Garden.