AUBURN HILLS, MICH., JUNE 5 -- Isiah Thomas showed an iron will, when there would have been no eyes raised if the Detroit Pistons had lost tonight. He scored 16 of his 33 points in the last seven minutes, leading Detroit to a 105-99 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and a 1-0 lead in the NBA finals.

Thomas made five of eight from the floor, including two huge three-pointers, as the Pistons rallied from a 10-point deficit. Until then, Portland had controlled the game with a great blend of scoring and defense from its starters.

But Thomas made the game his, as Detroit went on a 19-4 run in five minutes, turning a 90-80 deficit into a 99-94 lead, when Thomas made the second of his three-pointers with 1:49 left.

"It's never a battle of your skill, it's a battle of your will," said Thomas, who made 13 of 27 shots. "How bad do you really want it? When you're sitting on the bench and down 10 with four, five, six minutes to go, how bad do you really want it?"

"No question, we were struggling all night, and we just hung around and hung around," Pistons Coach Chuck Daly said. "Isiah played one of those magic 10 minutes when he was on fire, and really pulled us out, because we were struggling . . . . He just made some great, great shots from long range."

For most of the night, Portland had all the answers. As advertised, the Trail Blazers can thump, and they kept Detroit off the boards. The Pistons had next to nothing from the perimeter -- Joe Dumars, Vinnie Johnson and Bill Laimbeer were a combined 11 of 30 -- and the Trail Blazers were getting scoring from everyone.

Terry Porter (16 points) was doing his bit. Buck Williams (20 points and 12 rebounds) had a big game inside. Jerome Kersey (18 points, eight rebounds), was all over the floor. Kevin Duckworth scored 12 of his 17 points in the third quarter, when Portland held off every Detroit charge.

Detroit was tired, but the Trail Blazers had played 13 games since May 5 themselves. Portland was just taking control from the inside out.

When the Trail Blazers scored 10 of the first 14 fourth-quarter points, they led by 10 with 6:58 left. The Pistons had missed five of six shots and turned the ball over three times. Dennis Rodman was on the bench with five fouls.

"We had control of the game for 43 minutes," said guard Clyde Drexler (team-high 21 points). "We had the tempo and we had the lead. The tempo changed and we lost it. It's frustrating, but we know we can play better."

Thomas wouldn't let Detroit lose, even after Kersey's basket that made it 90-80. After a Detroit timeout, Thomas scored. He came up with a steal at the other end, and then hit an 18-footer, making the deficit six. Drexler came across the lane for two, but Dumars hit a big three-pointer at 5:49 to bring Detroit within 92-87.

Mark Aguirre (18 points) then scored, and the lead was three.

"It just kind of happened," Thomas said. "We were struggling all night emotion-wise, we couldn't get over the hump. the visiting team always has the advantage. You don't know what to expect. We didn't know what to expect with this team. We were kind of cautious."

Williams scored, but Thomas was warming up. He made two free throws with 4:16 remaining, and after a miss by Kersey, Thomas hit a three-pointer with 3:40 remaining to tie it.

"They played extremely well," Williams said. "Detroit being such a fine team defensively, they really shut us down from the things we wanted to do the last six minutes.

Aguirre said: "We looked to Joe, we looked to {Laimbeer}, came to myself. 'Where is it?' We probed and we found it. It was like 'He hit one, he hit two, there it is, let's go. Let's go to him. Everybody else, play defense.' "

The 21,454 in attendance were delirious. Both teams missed shots, but Detroit ran its nearly-unstoppable pick-and-roll play, with Thomas coming high off the pick to make another jumper at 2:26. The Pistons led for the first time in the game. Porter then missed a wild shot and Guess Who drained another three-pointer at 1:49? Ballgame.

"Like I told him late in the fourth quarter," Laimbeer said, "after he went off like that, I just reached over and said 'You know, you've always been my idol.' "

Portland has made a habit of stopping the opposition down the stretch in these playoffs. The Trail Blazers did it to San Antonio, and they did it to Phoenix. Tonight was the first time that didn't happen, and they knew it cost them the game.

"Our bread and butter has been playing well down the stretch," Porter said. "Today they did it. They didn't really do anything different. He just shots threes. He took it upon himself to shoot the threes. You've got to let a guy shoot as many threes as he wants."

Said Drexler, "You don't expect a guy to just jack up from three in that situation."

So Detroit somehow managed to win for the 10th straight time at home in this year's playoffs. But Portland did everything to win, except what these Pistons always talk about. Playing all 48 minutes.

Yet, Thomas said: "experience didn't have anything to do with tonight's game. I think that's the trademark of our team. We just never give up, we just never quit. I can remember games when we're down 15, 20 points, and we're still working our butts off . . . . The worst thing you can do is go in the shower and have one of the guys look at you strange, look at you cross-eyed."