Lakers in Cruise Control Against Detroit
Managing just 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Los Angeles Lakers still had plenty in the tank, defeating the Detroit Pistons, 93-81 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Kobe Bryant led the balanced Lakers attack with 28 points, 5 steals, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. Andrew Bynum (16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 2 assists) bounced back from a string of disappointing contests with more energy and focus which he had been lacking since Pau Gasol’s return. Gasol (13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) and Ron Artest (14 points, 9 assists, 6 steals, 5 rebounds) helped propel the Lakers to their fourth win in a row and a league leading, 22-4 record. The Lakers came out somewhat subdued as the Pistons immediately took a 13-4 lead. But the Lakers, who arrived at their hotel at 4:00am that morning, finally awoke and proceeded to dismantle the undermanned Pistons. They used a 11-0 run to take the lead for good and ended the first quarter ahead, 31-19.
Detroit was again without Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. Also joining the pair on the bench was super-sub, Ben Gordon. The Pistons were too small to fend off the frontline of the Lakers. Lamar Odom, (7 points on 3-5, 10 rebounds), Jordan Farmar (3 points on 1-6, 3 rebounds, 1 assist) and Shannon Brown (3 points on 1-9, 2 assists, 2 steals) all had subpar offensive games, but the starters made up for it by building up a substantial lead at halftime, 56-38. The starters continued their all-around good play and extended their lead to 21 points at the end of the third quarter. Phil Jackson pulled out Kobe, Artest and Gasol to rest in the final quarter, but just as in their previous meeting at Staples Center, the Pistons finally found the range and began chipping away at the lead. Jackson was forced to reinsert his starters as Detroit closed the gap to single digits against the floundering Lakers bench.
Almost as if on cue, Kobe promptly stole the ball and scored on a layup momentarily putting a halt to the streaking Pistons. And just as last time, it was too much Lakers early in the contest as they rode out the storm as the Pistons finally ran out of gas. The Lakers concluded their 5-game road trip at 4-1 and travel back home to the friendly confines of Staples Center where they host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday followed by the nationally televised match-up against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day.