Clyde Drexler has been Portland's signature player almost from the time he joined the team in 1983. He is the man people think of when the Trail Blazers are mentioned.
Bill Walton probably is the only other such player in the franchise's 20-year history, and he is remembered most for the 1977 championship won by the Blazers.Drexler, with his clutch, 33-point performance in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, is trying to make a similar mark on team annals.
He played 43 minutes in Portland's 106-105 overtime victory at the Palace of Auburn Hills, hitting 13 of 20 shots and six of eight free throws, including two with 2.1 seconds left in overtime.
"I love that situation," Drexler said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything. The Detroit fans are loud, the place was rockin', but I blocked all that out. I didn't hear a word."
The Trail Blazers won't be blocking out the crowd at Memorial Coliseum for Game 3 today. With the series tied 1-1, Portland has a chance to close out the championship with three consecutive victories at home, where it is 9-0 this season in the playoffs.
The Pistons have lost 20 consecutive games here since 1974, and ending the streak becomes more difficult with the announcement Saturday that Dennis Rodman wouldn't start on Sunday.
Rodman, plagued since Game 4 of the Chicago series with a gimpy left ankle, will be replaced by Mark Aguirre, Coach Chuck Daly said.
"I'm not sure," Daly said when asked if Rodman might be available for spot use. "Right now, he's very, very questionable for the game."
Rodman aggravated the injury in the second game of the finals as he let go a free throw and prepared for a possible rebound.
Drexler scored eight points in Thursday's overtime.
After Bill Laimbeer hit the first two of his three overtime 3-pointers for Detroit, Drexler tied the score 102-102 with 51 seconds left with an off-balance, driving layup.
After Buck Williams gave Portland a 104-102 lead with two free throws with 9.6 seconds to go, Laimbeer hit his sixth 3-pointer of the game with 4.1 seconds remaining.
At that point, Drexler thought he had blown the game.
The Trail Blazers had a foul to give the Pistons, but Drexler hesitated in fouling Laimbeer, who was several feet behind the 3-point circle.
"I was supposed to foul," Drexler said. "I was supposed to hack him. But he was so far out that I didn't think he would shoot it. It was a great shot."
"Clyde thought I was mad at him," Portland Coach Rick Adelman said. "But Laimbeer was so far out that you couldn't expect him to shoot it."