Pistons try to find winning edge at Portland

The up-and-down Detroit Pistons, who have won and lost alternating games for the past two weeks, hope to have leading scorer Jerami Grant back in the lineup Saturday night when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers.Grant sat out Thursday’s 113-101 road win over the Sacramento Kings with a balky right knee. The ailment isn’t serious but Grant’s availability might not be clear until game time.The 27-year-old Grant has been a breakout star for Detroit with a career-best 22.5 points per game. He averaged 12 points for the Denver Nuggets last season before signing with the Pistons as a free agent. He hoists an average of 17.3 shots a game this season after averaging 8.9 per outing last season.Grant scored 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting in Tuesday’s 134-119 loss to the Nuggets in Denver before the knee acted up and kept him out Thursday.Veteran guard Cory Joseph moved into a scoring role with Grant sidelined against the Kings and recorded a season-high 24 points and added seven assists as the Pistons improved to 2-1 on a five-game road trip.Joseph knocked down 10 of 14 shots and was beaming afterward because Sacramento traded him to the Pistons at last month’s trading deadline.”Obviously playing against my former team, you want to get the win,” said Joseph, who played 1 1/2 seasons with the Kings after stints with the San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers. “We had a complete game. We have a lot of young guys, a lot of young talent and they’re just soaking it up. It’s lovely to see. This an organization that is going in the right direction.”It was the fourth win in seven games for the Pistons, who are showing signs of life despite remaining last in the Eastern Conference.A surprise contributor in the frontcourt was Jahlil Okafor, who saw action for the first time in more than two months after undergoing knee surgery. He had a season-best 11 points in 15 minutes.Okafor will be in the rotation again versus Portland if center Mason Plumlee (concussion) is unavailable for the second straight game.Grant scored 30 points in Detroit’s meeting with the Trail Blazers on March 31, but Portland rolled up 73 second-half points to post a 124-101 road victory. Star guard Damian Lillard recorded 33 points and 10 assists and CJ McCollum added 24 points and six assists for the Trail Blazers in that one.

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