PORTLAND, ORE., JUNE 10 -- The circumstances were harrowing. An hour and a half before Game 3 of The NBA Finals, Detroit guard Joe Dumars's father, Joe II, passed away in Natchitoches, La. But under a prior arrangement, Dumars was not told about it until after the game.

In the interim, Joe Dumars III played. Oh, how he played, pulled groin and all. He scored a team-high 33 points to lead the Pistons to a 121-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven championship series, regaining the home-court advantage. The second of three consecutive games here will be played Tuesday night.

Detroit was vexing today. Seven Pistons scored in double figures, and the team shooting percentage was .531. Defensively, they held Portland to .419 shooting. Bill Laimbeer was a thorn all afternoon with 12 rebounds to go with 11 points and a block, and he drew several offensive fouls against Portland before fouling out. The Trail Blazers thought he was an award-winning actor. But more on that later.

Guard Vinnie Johnson broke out of a three-for-25 freefall over the last four playoff games with 21 points off the bench on nine-of-13 shooting. Isiah Thomas also had 21 points, and forwards Mark Aguirre and James Edwards each had 11 points. It seemed as if Detroit didn't miss the injured Dennis Rodman (ankle) much at all.

"I felt {Saturday} that our club was in a different mood than they had been for the two games at home," Pistons Coach Chuck Daly said.

"They started to realize the seriousness of it. But you can't fault people for that. You play in The Finals three years in a row, playing eight or nine months at a time, sometimes you get like that."

Jerome Kersey's 27 points led the Trail Blazers. Clyde Drexler had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Terry Porter added 20. But Detroit's guards outscored Portland's, 75-49.

Game 2 had been frustrating for Detroit in the sense that the Pistons were four seconds from a 2-0 lead. But more worrisome was that they had yet to play well. The Trail Blazers looked like they were coming on.

The Pistons had similar feelings after the Lakers beat them badly at home in January. After that game, Detroit won 25 of its next 26. The Pistons were equally impressive today.

"We felt threatened as a ballclub after Game 2," Laimbeer said. "We've had it easy for so long. This is probably the second time all year that we've felt threatened by somebody. And when that happens our team responds very well."

Detroit took a 58-51 halftime lead and promptly made nine of its first 13 shots in the third to take a 15-point lead. The rest of the game was Portland playing catch-up, killed at every turn by a jumper from Dumars or Johnson.

The Pistons scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter after the Trail Blazers got within 90-82 after three. Afterward, Portland never got closer than 13, and lost for the first time at home in 10 postseason games. (And it was Detroit's first victory here since Oct. 19, 1974, a span of 20 regular season games.)

Dumars was told about his father's death by phone by his wife, Debbie, after the game. His father had been in intensive care for the last two weeks, and died of congestive heart failure. He had diabetes for several years, and the disease had led to the amputation of his legs a couple of years ago.

Debbie Dumars told the Pistons' coaching staff and Public Relations Director Matt Dobek but Thomas was the only player who knew before the game.

"His wife informed us that they had talked about this before," Thomas said. "If the situation arose where he had to play a game, he didn't want to know until after the game. She would tell him. After the game they got us a room here, and his wife told him the news."

Detroit General Manager Jack McCloskey flew with Dumars after the game on club owner Bill Davidson's private plane to pick up Debbie Dumars in Birmingham, Mich., where the couple lives.

They are scheduled to fly to Natchitoches for services. Dumars's status for Game 4 is uncertain, although it's unlikely he will be back in time for it.

The Trail Blazers were hamstrung from the beginning. Less than nine minutes into the game, Buck Williams, Kersey and Duckworth each had two fouls and had to sit. Reserves Cliff Robinson and Mark Bryant each had three fouls before the half ended.

Laimbeer angered Portland with his ability to draw offensive fouls. His flops to the floor at the slightest contact are known around the league, but they got the job done today.

"You expect those kinds of antics from Laimbeer," Williams said. "But when he starts getting calls, that's when it becomes frustrating . . . I don't want to talk about officiating. That's not the position I'm taking. I'm just saying I hope we're allowed to play the kind of aggressive basketball that's got us this far."

Portland's task now is to win one of the next two to send the series back to Detroit. Joe Dumars III has more important things on his mind.

"He played his best playoff game today," Detroit assistant coach Brendan Malone said. "And as I was watching the game I said 'He's probably dedicating the game to his father.' That's just projection on my part. But you could tell on the bench he was thinking about something, that the game meant something to him."