Blazers start home-heavy stretch vs. skidding Pistons

Home is where the victories are for the Portland Trail Blazers, who are about to embark on a friendly slate.The road-challenged Trail Blazers host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night to start a stretch in which Portland plays eight of nine games at home.That’s big considering the Blazers are 9-1 at home and just finished a 0-3 road trip by taking a 129-107 beat-down from the Utah Jazz on Monday night in Salt Lake City.That setback left Portland with a sour 1-10 road mark. First-year coach Chauncey Billups is getting frustrated with the topsy-turvy nature of his club.”It’s been tough, because we’re just such a different ballclub on the road,” Billups said after the loss to Utah. “I think we play this casualness a lot of times with no urgency. That’s dangerous.”And at home, you can do that and a team can make a run and you got the crowd behind you and you can overcome that a lot of times. On the road, you can’t do that. You’ve got to play with purpose. You got to play with urgency. You got to play with some IQ. You got to kind of understand what you’re going after every night.”Keeping the home mark going is a strong possibility against the Pistons, who have dropped their past six games. In addition, Detroit is just 2-8 on the road.Still, Portland allowed an average of 124 points on the trip. Utah topped 30 points in each of the final three quarters, including 41 in the third.Also, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard had just 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting against the Jazz. After seemingly breaking out of a slump with nine straight games of 20 or more points, Lillard is averaging 13.5 points on 33.3 percent shooting (9 of 27) over the past two games.While Lillard was quiet, big man Jusuf Nurkic and reserve guard Anfernee Simons each scored 24 points. The output was a season best for Simons.”When I come in, I try to be active on defense and play my game on offense,” Simons said.Detroit is 0-3 on a five-game road trip after falling 110-106 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night.The Pistons were tied with the Lakers before allowing 16 straight points in the third quarter. They later trailed by 19 before trimming the deficit in the final period.Jerami Grant scored 32 points, his third 30-point effort of the season. He was encouraged by the flow on the offensive end.

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