PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -Brandon Roy insists he's fine, he only wants to manage his minutes with an eye on the long term.
``I want to be a better Brandon Roy in February, rather than just holding on,' Portland's three-time All-Star guard said.
Roy raised eyebrows Tuesday night when he left Portland's 100-78 victory over the Detroit Pistons midway through the first quarter, retreating to the bench where he appeared to have his right leg wrapped and iced.
Roy, the team's leading scorer, later returned and appeared fine - but questions swirled afterward about his health. Late last season he needed arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Roy wanted to clarify a few things: First, it wasn't ice, it was heat on his knee. And it was no big deal.
``I'm good,' he said. ``I'm playing. I'm just looking to get those minutes down and keep my legs fresh for the rest of the season.'
Roy ended up playing just under 21 minutes and scoring 11 points. LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 19 points and 17 rebounds.
The Pistons, who opened the season with five straight losses before winning their last two, were led by Rodney Stuckey with 17 points. But the team put up little fight after trailing by as many as 25 points.
``We did not start out the third period the right way,' coach John Kuester said. ``When you're on the road, mental toughness is paramount. The energy was not what it needs to be to win on the road.'
Stuckey started his second game after an issue with Kuester put him on the bench against Charlotte last Friday. He apparently refused to acknowledge Kuester during a game at Atlanta.
After insisting that everything was fine between the pair, Stuckey scored 21 points in the Pistons' 102-97 win over Golden State on Sunday.
The Pistons dropped to 0-4 on the road.
``We haven't put a 48-minute game together yet,' said Tayshaun Prince, who finished with 10 points for Detroit.
The Blazers were coming off a 121-96 thumping by the Lakers in Los Angeles on Sunday. Roy and Aldridge were held to just eight points apiece in the loss.
Roy left midway through the first quarter Tuesday night and didn't return until midway through the second. Although he had wrapped his right leg on the bench, he wore a black sleeve on his left calf when he re-entered the game.
The Blazers built a 38-25 lead in the first half before their shooting suddenly went cold and they had six turnovers, allowing Detroit to close the gap to 44-43 on Prince's hook shot.
The Pistons were unable to get any closer and Portland took a 53-45 lead into the break.
Portland came out and built a 63-50 advantage after Nicolas Batum's dunk. Roy hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 66-52 and it simply got worse for the Pistons from there.
Roy left the game following the 3-pointer and did not return. Aldridge was awarded a standing ovation from the Rose Garden crowd when he left for good with 6:14 left.
Rudy Fernandez had 13 points coming off the bench to spell Roy.
``We felt like we had the game under control so we didn't bring him (Roy) back in the second half,' Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. ``Rudy was playing good basketball and we just decided to keep him on the bench for the rest of the game. He could have come back.'
Roy was averaging 20.3 points and just under 40 minutes a game before facing the Pistons.
Portland was plagued by injuries last season that have carried over to this one. Centers Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden continue to rehab from surgeries last season.
Marcus Camby has been carrying the load at center, with Aldridge sliding over at times. The Blazers signed Sean Marks late last week to help out.
Notes: The Blazers saw their 25-millionth fan pass through the turnstiles on Tuesday. The fan got moved to courtside seats for the game, and other perks. ... The Pistons have lost five straight to the Blazers. ... Portland's 22-point margin of victory was its largest this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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