Trail Blazers-Pistons Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The Detroit Pistons have lost 12 straight to Western Conference opponents, but could be catching a break in their bid to end that skid.
The Portland Trail Blazers may be without All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge as they visit the Pistons on Monday night.
Aldridge, averaging 19.7 points and 5.8 rebounds, missed his first game Sunday when he sat out a 98-85 loss at Brooklyn with a stiff back. Portland (6-7) was competitive throughout a contest that was tied after three quarters before falling to 2-4 on the road.
"To be without our best player and come to Brooklyn and then have a chance down the stretch. Just to be in that position without LaMarcus says a lot about our team," rookie guard Damian Lillard said.
There is no word on Aldridge's status for Monday. He received pre-game treatment from the training staff and was in uniform, but rookie Meyers Leonard received his second start.
The big man averaged 24.8 points and 7.7 rebounds during a six-game win streak over the Pistons (3-11), who snapped that slide in the series with a 94-91 win Jan. 21 in the lone matchup last season. Aldridge led Portland with 25 points while Rodney Stuckey scored a game-high 28 for Detroit.
That was a rare victory for the Pistons over a West foe. Detroit went 5-13 against Western opponents in 2011-12 before losing their first eight to the other conference this season.
While Portland took positives from its Sunday defeat in the New York area, that wasn't the case for the Pistons in their 121-100 road loss the Knicks on Sunday. Detroit fell behind 64-44 at halftime and finished with 19 turnovers.
"How many minutes of defense did we play? I don't know, but I know it's not nearly good enough to do and we've got to take care of the ball," coach Lawrence Frank said.
Brandon Knight, who made the winning layup in Friday's 91-90 victory over Toronto, matched a season high with 21 points and Charlie Villanueva added a season-best 17.
None of that mattered as the Pistons allowed the Knicks to make 17 3-pointers - the second-highest total yielded by the club over the last 26 seasons.
"We have to give a better effort as far as not giving up those 3s," Knight said. "That's what they do best, that's what we came into the game trying to do. We did a poor job defensively."
Knight will get his first chance to match up with Lillard, who leads all rookies in scoring at 19.6 points per game. Lillard, thrust into a leadership role for Portland, had a poor effort Sunday with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
"I think we have multiple leaders on the team," Lillard said. "I wouldn't say that I am the leader of the team. There are times when something needs to be said and I will say it, but we have multiple guys on our team that lead."
Wesley Matthews scored 20 points and J.J. Hickson had 19 and 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who were outrebounded 48-34 without Aldridge.
Updated November 25, 2012