The Lakers were in Detroit tonight for their second back to back of the young season. After an up and down game Tuesday night in Milwaukee the Lakers were looking to take care of a lesser Pistons squad. This was a game that saw the Lakers as heavy favorites, but we all know what happens in these games where one team is told they have no chance. In order for the Lakers to move on to Minnesota with their perfect road trip still intact they would have to dispatch a tough Detroit team that is looking to find some rhythm.
The Lakers came out hot and aggressive. It looked like the Pistons were the team who played last night rather than the Lakers. Detroit was settling for long shots while the Lakers attacked the rim, which gave the Lakers an early 11-2 lead. The team was aggressive on both ends of the floor, as the starting five looked to dictate the pace of the game early. The hot hand belonged to Kobe Bryant, who had two early three point shots and several other baskets.
Just when it looked like Detroit was going to make it into a game after establishing momentum and cutting the lead to four, their best player, Rip Hamilton, picked up two technical fouls and was ejected. For a young team like Detroit, this had the opportunity to be a debilitating loss of leadership, but could also be a rallying point for the Pistons. Whether it would be one or the other was still to be determined.
The quarter ended, and for the Lakers it was a good one. Los Angeles led the Pistons 34 – 25 after twelve minutes of play.
The Lakers started the second quarter very differently than the first. A slow start for Los Angeles was met with energy from the Pistons. Detroit was able to cut the lead to six before Tracy McGrady went down with an injury. Detroit, who was already without Hamilton, couldn’t afford to lose many more players. However, even with the injury the Pistons failed to go away, as they continued to whittle down the Lakers lead down to three.
The Lakers were then able to re-establish some rhythm. Taking advantage of a rather distinct heigh advantage, Pau Gasol took control of the paint. Bryant then took advantage his his distinct talent advantage, to help build the Lakers lead back up to double digits. The first half was the Kobe Bryant show, as number 24 continued to lead the way for Los Angeles, finishing the quarter with a very appropriate 24 points.
Los Angeles went into the half leading the Pistons, 59-45.
Any hope of a Detroit comeback in the second half seemed instantly squashed when the Lakers took the floor in the second half. Quick buckets from Lamar Odom and Bryant continued to build the Lakers lead. Detroit came out flat, and Los Angeles took advantage. After pushing the lead up to 21 it was evident that the Lakers starters were hoping to spend the fourth quarter icing their knees. Bryant continued his dominating play, and the Lakers seemed to be toying with an undermanned Pistons squad.
By the end the third quarter came to an end it was clear the Lakers were well on their way to victory, leading the Pistons 84-63.
With the Lakers up 21 points heading into the fourth it was a wise assumption that the quarter would be dominated by the bench. Coach Phil Jackson sent out a group of bench players to begin the quarter along with starter Lamar Odom, who put up a double double for Los Angeles tonight. For both the players and fans it seemed like the fourth quarter was nothing more than twelve minutes that needed to run out before the Lakers could put another game in the win column.
The quarter started slow offensively for Los Angeles, but considering the fact that many of the players on the floor hadn’t established much rhythm throughout the rest of the game it’s really no surprise. This was, however, a good chance for the Lakers reserves to get some solid playing time and a chance to build confidence. As expected, the game got sloppy down the stretch as the outcome was all but decided. In the end the Lakers were able to maintain a perfect road trip, and will head to Minnesota on Friday looking to improve their record to 11-2 against the Timberwolves.
Your final score from tonight’s game was a lot closer than the game itself, as the Lakers left Detroit after a 103-90 win.