PORTLAND, ORE., JUNE 12 -- All that's standing in the way of a championship for Portland is three wins, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, nine other Pistons, the history that says no team has recovered from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, and, last but not least, the Trail Blazers bench.

Down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series after their 112-109 loss to Detroit tonight, the Trail Blazers are in trouble. Deep trouble.

"We just have to break the next three up and take them one at a time," said Buck Williams, when asked the club's view of a task that could be regarded as next to impossible. "Hopefully, we can do that. If we look at this like we have to win three in a row . . . that's tough. But if we break them up into pieces, maybe we can do it."

Speaking of breakups, this might be a proper time for Portland Coach Rick Adelman to shake up his bench. Even after all the heroics and histrionics of the fourth quarter, even after the Portland press made the Pistons look as if they were missing more than a few cogs while erasing a 16-point Detroit lead -- one still could point to the start of the second quarter as the turning point.

After 12 minutes, the Trail Blazers led, 32-22, and looked semi-dominant. But during the next four minutes, the Pistons stormed to 32-31 by taking advantage of shaky reserves Drazen Petrovic, Cliff Robinson, Wayne Cooper and Danny Young. That seemed to set the tone for the rest of the quarter, which the Pistons won, 29-14, en route to a 51-46 halftime lead.

That the Portland reserves were in the game at the same time seemed curious. After the Trail Blazers' 105-99 loss in Game 1, Adelman had said he would change his player rotation, so at least two starters -- and preferably three -- would be on the floor. Tonight, however, only one starter -- Jerome Kersey -- was on the floor at the start of the second quarter.

Why the change in strategy?

"Clyde {Drexler} needed a blow at the end of the first quarter," Adelman said, "and I had to give him a blow. I mean, if a guy says he's tired, you have to give him a blow. That's why {Petrovic} was in the game.

"If I had to do anything different, I would have left Buck Williams in the game, so that we had both our starting forwards in the game at the same time."

Williams returned with 9:45 left in the quarter -- replacing Kersey. Leaving, again, one starter on the floor.

With Vinnie Johnson still stroking shots from the perimeter -- and the basket area and the lane -- the Pistons reserves outscored the Trail Blazers' by 26-8. In 47 combined minutes, Petrovic, Young, Robinson and Cooper went a combined four for 12 from the field and totaled five rebounds, two assists and nine fouls.

"I don't blame this situation on our bench," said Adelman. "We had one rebound in the second quarter. That's not just the bench; that's our starters too. The bench isn't solely responsible.

"And the Pistons . . . you have to credit the Pistons for really jumping on us when we were standing around in the second quarter."

Another Trail Blazer problem has been playmaker Terry Porter, who is shooting below 40 percent this series. During the Trail Blazers' playoff victories over San Antonio and Phoenix, Porter loomed as the Trail Blazers' catalyst, but not in this series. He had 17 points tonight but couldn't come up with the big play -- the kind of play he seemingly made routinely last month.

Asked to explain Porter's falloff, Adelman said: "I don't know the answer, I really don't know. But I do know we need him to score -- to look to score -- for us to win. One thing I was really concerned with at halftime is that he played 21 minutes and took only three shots. We can't win with him taking three shots at halftime."