Ex-Piston Jerami Grant scores 36, leads Trail Blazers to blowout win

PORTLAND — Monday night was a family reunion for the Detroit Pistons. The Portland Trail Blazers are led by Piston’s great Chauncey Billups, who was hired as their head coach during the 2021 offseason. And Jerami Grant, who signed with the Pistons in 2020 and led the team as a goalscorer for two seasons, was traded to Portland last offseason.

In the end, the Pistons didn’t have much to celebrate. Grant posted a game-high 36 points against his former team and led the Blazers to a 135-106 blowout win over the Pistons at the Moda Center. After a competitive start to the game, Detroit fizzled out, being outplayed 39-25 in the second quarter and 41-30 in the third quarter.

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Turnovers were a problem for the Pistons as they coughed up the ball 20 times against just 16 assists. They were without Killian Hayes, who ended his three-game suspension on Monday following an altercation with Orlando Magic big man Mo Wagner last week. Marvin Bagley III retired from the game in the second quarter with a right hand injury.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 21 points, Alec Burks scored 19 points and Hamidou Diallo posted a season-high 16 points. Jaden Ivey (13 points, 3 from 11 shooting) also reached double digits despite struggling off the ground and turning the ball over five times. Anfernee Simons added 30 points for Portland.

Grant goes against former team

Pistons fans are well acquainted with Grant’s ability to hit the ball. He led the Pistons in his two seasons in Detroit, posting a career-high 22.3 points per game in 2020-21. After finding success as a role-playing player with the Denver Nuggets, he went to Detroit to expand his game and prove he had untapped potential as an offensive player.

It paid off for him as he emerged as the second-best player for a Blazers team firmly in the Western Conference playoff hunt. The Pistons, nor the rest of the league, saw this version of Grant. The 6-foot-8 forward started Monday averaging 22 points but was significantly more efficient compared to his time with the Pistons. Hitting 48.4% of his shots and a career-high 43.9% of his 3-pointers, he has benefited from facing a superstar in Damian Lillard. Instead of always being considered as the first option, he now has the luxury of picking his spots as No. 2.

But it was Grant, not Lillard, who buried the Pistons. Grant efficiently scored 32 of his 36 points in the first three quarters. He finished a 4-point game at 7:33 in the third quarter to extend Portland’s lead to 19, then followed up with a midrange jumper at the seven-minute mark. At this point in the game, Grant had 30 points on 10-on-14 overall shooting in just 21 minutes of action. The Pistons had no answer for him.

His full play was on display as he hit shots from 3’s, on the rim and on the line – his favorite playing field. Grant played just two minutes and 36 seconds in the last third and finished the night with just under 28 minutes played.

Pistons fall apart in the 2nd quarter

It was a hard-fought game for 18 minutes. A deep 3-pointer from Damian Lillard midway through the second quarter extended Portland’s lead to six, 44-38. The high-scoring guard only had six points at this point, and the 3 teased a potential scoring breakout. But the Pistons replied back. Effortless possession from Duren led to a series of picks before ending the game with a dunk to cap a 12-2 run by the Pistons that gave them a four-point lead. Ivey threw down two free throws at 3:06 before halftime to extend her lead to 52-46.

Those were Detroit’s final points of the half. Portland ended the second quarter with a 15-0 run to go into halftime with a 61-52 lead, then scored five more unanswered points to open the third quarter and extend his run to 20-0 and to lead to 66:52. In Q2, Detroit shot 8-24 overall (33.3%) and 1-for-5 from 3. Portland, on the other hand, shot 15-21 overall (71.4%) and 4-for-6 from 3.

Detroit has tended to give up extreme runs in recent weeks. Allowing Portland to score 20 straight points in about five minutes is certainly among the Pistons’ worst stretches of basketball this season.

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