After splitting the first two games, the Los Angeles Lakers look to finish the road trip on a high note against the Detroit Pistons. Both teams met in Los Angeles less than two weeks ago where the Lakers dominated them, 114-99. Without Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, these Lakers have played well and will look to go above .500 for the first time since opening day.
The Lakers got off to a poor start as they were slow to get back on defense and committed three turnovers. Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe quickly combined for 13 points and established a nine point lead. Midway through the quarter, the Pistons already had six fast break points and 16 points in the paint. After a timeout, the Lakers responded with an 8-0 run led by Shawne Williams’ two three-pointers. Both teams went back and forth for the remainder of the quarter as the Lakers trailed by one, 32-31.
Jordan Farmar and the Lakers bench got off to another strong start, but could not stop the Pistons from scoring inside. Despite 30 points in the paint with more than eight minutes to play, the Lakers took a three point lead. Midway through the quarter, the Lakers were sloppy with the basketball and gave up easy baskets to the Pistons once again and trailed by nine. However, the Lakers fought back with a 6-0 run to cut the lead to three. While the Lakers’ turnovers and Pistons’ points in the paint would continue, Wesley Johnson’s 18 points helped Los Angeles lead at the half, 56-55.
After scoring all their points in the paint or at the free-throw line, Lakers made a conscious effort to clog the paint. Unfortunately, the Pistons still got easy opportunities around the rim. Without Jordan Hill who appeared to sprain his left ankle early in the quarter, the Lakers gave up numerous offensive boards and the Pistons extended their lead to eight. With less than three minutes, Johnson kept the Lakers within striking distance as he converted on his sixth three-pointer of the game to cut the lead to three. To close the quarter, Lakers turned the ball over on numerous possessions and were unable to secure any rebounds. At the end of the third, the Lakers trailed 87-77.
Timely baskets by Shawne Williams and Nick Young cut the deficit to six points to start the quarter. While the Pistons maintained their lead around 5-7 points, the Lakers bench made their push and cut the deficit down to two points midway through the quarter. After a timeout, Brandon Jennings and Jordan Farmar made their own individual runs and the Pistons still led by three. With less than two minutes to go, the Lakers went on a 12-0 run to earn a four point lead. However, Farmar fouled Jennings on a three-point attempt where he missed two free-throws with 18 seconds remaining. With a chance to tie or win the game, Young drew a charge on Josh Smith to seal the victory.