Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon contest at Detroit with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Gasol
Pistons: B. Knight, R. Stuckey, K. Singler, J. Maxiell, G. Monroe
12:00 The Lakers were without the services of Dwight Howard for
the second straight game, the big man explaining that his right shoulder
was not ready for game action, meaning Pau Gasol would start in the
middle for the second straight game (he had 22 and 12 at Minnesota). The
Pistons were without Jose Calderon, whom they’d just acquired in a
three-way trade with Memphis and Toronto, as he was having trouble with a
work visa (as a Spanish citizen who’d been working in Canada).
A layup from Nash through traffic halted a 7-0 run from the Pistons to
get the Lakers within two, as Antawn Jamison entered the game when Metta
World Peace committed his second early foul. Jamison has been strong of
late off the bench, scoring in double figures in four straight games.
L.A. kept it going, scoring seven more straight behind Kobe’s first
field goal (which allowed him to pass Hakeem Olajuwon for seventh on the
all-time FG made list), an Earl Clark three and Gasol’s third bucket to
make it 18-13.
0:00 Gasol had a strong all-around first period (6 points, 3
rebounds, 2 assists), though he missed consecutive open J’s in the final
minute off set ups from Kobe. Nonetheless, L.A. led 32-27 after 12
minutes, with Clark reaching nine points to lead all scorers, Bryant
adding four with two assists and Nash leading the way passing with four
dimes. L.A. made 65 percent of its shots, getting seven bench points
between Jamison and Steve Blake.
9:01 The concern for the Lakers without Howard was trying to get
away with playing World Peace and Clark at the 4/5 on the second unit,
which would usually have either Howard or Gasol. And Detroit punished
‘em early with their two 6-11 bigs Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond,
scoring six straight points at the rim in the first minute of the
second. However, L.A. responded with a jumper from Clark, and a three
and layup from Jodie Meeks to hold a 39-35 lead; Gasol returned after
only two minutes and chance of rest.
6:13 The bench bounced back, aided by the return of Gasol (12
points), to take a 47-39 lead after two free throws from Jamison, up to
six points off the pine. The Lakers had good energy in this one, in
stark contrast to the last 10 a.m. game they had this season (at
The Lakers know a little something about having 0.4 seconds left on the
clock, and while the following play didn’t win a playoff game like
Derek Fisher in San Antonio, it was kind of awesome: Kobe lobbed a
perfect alley-oop from the sideline in front of L.A.’s bench over 30
feet that Clark rose to grab and hammer home, giving the visitors a
62-51 lead at the break. L.A. had 16 assists on 24 field goals (57
percent shooting) and
9:06 Bang. Kobe got a bit nasty in transition, throwing down a
hammer dunk on Brandon Knight that gave L.A. its biggest lead at 68-54.
Keeping the good vibe going for L.A. was Gasol, then Nash, with
consecutive buckets in the paint to push the margin up to 72-54.
2:30 Detroit started to score behind Monroe (18 points), using
a 10-2 run to cut L.A.’s 18-point lead to 10, even as Gasol reached 21
points on 9 of 13 field goals. They needed Gasol’s tip in with 56
seconds left to halt a 16-4 Pistons run that had quickly cut the lead
down to just six. That was the margin after three, at 78-72, L.A. trying
to hold on as they did against Minnesota in the previous road win.
5:00 Bryant’s bucket at the rim was much needed, as it kept the
Lakers up three after the Pistons had again roared back from a double
digit deficit (87-77) to get within one when Will Bynum (a little thorn
in LAL’s side all night with 16 points and eight assists off the bench).
Detroit had the ball out of a time out, down 91-88, trying to complete a
A terrific driving layup from Kobe, through lots of traffic, went down
plus the foul to break a 95-all tie, his free throw giving the Lakers
98. He’d missed a contested jumper on the previous possession, and kept
the snarl on his face after hitting the foul shot. Bryant had 18 points
and five assists, Nash 11 points with 10 assists, and Gasol 23 points
with 10 boards, three dimes and two steals.
0:00 Would you believe that Steve Nash missed not one, but two
free throws* in the final seconds, giving the Pistons a chance to win,
down one, with one second left, but Drummond missed an attempted dunk
with Gasol contesting. Earl Clark had also missed two free throws with
16.8 seconds left, but the Lakers got the two final stops they needed to
escape with a victory. It’s the fifth win in six games for L.A., who
have four more games left on the Grammy road trip. Next up is Brooklyn,
on Tuesday, in the brand new Barclay’s Center. We’ll see you there.
*He was literally the NBA’s greatest foul shooter ever, by percentage,
at that point, until falling percentage points below Mark Price with the