Game Preview: Los Angeles Lakers at Detroit Pistons

Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The Lakers visit the Detroit Pistons for an early Sunday game. There's still no official word on whether Howard will play, but the Pistons will be without newly acquired Jose Calderon.

Showtime

10:00 am PST

Plot

The Lakers road trip rolls right along as they take on the Detroit Pistons in game 3 of this 7 game road trip. After escaping Minnesota with a narrow victory, the Lakers will need to sew together another victory however it may come along. Whether it's a breeze through win, or a "thank goodness they didn't botch this one" affair, the Lakers can't drop games to "beatable" teams.

Enter Jose Calderon, erm, sort of.

The NBA landscape has changed. The first large transaction in the final trade period didn't necessarily move mountains, but it certainly caused waves to crash into the shorelines. Rudy Gay has been sent packing from Memphis, and in a three-team trade, the Detroit Pistons wound up the proud owners of a Jose Calderon. Yes, Calderon is now wearing a new jersey, and it isn't the Lakers purple and gold that many have wanted for so long.

The catch for Detroit is, while they have already sent Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince off to Memphis, they're having difficulties regarding Jose Calderon's visa. He has been ruled out for Sunday's matchup, and there's no specific timeline on when he'll be ready to lace them up for the Pistons. Dodged bullet for the Lakers? Calderon torched the Lakers for 22 points and 9 assists when he was till a Raptor, and has been a thorn in the Lakers side historically.

Still, even without Calderon and Prince/Daye, the Pistons demolished the Cleveland Cavaliers just a few days ago. Brandon Knight had 20 points and 10 assists, and Greg Monroe had a dominant 18 points, 16 rebounds game. With no clear answer as to whether Dwight Howard will play yet (he has rejoined the team in Detroit, but there has been no official word as to whether Howard will get back on the court), there's an open wound for the Pistons to attack in the paint. Despite their record 18-29 record the Pistons have an above average defense (96.7 ppg allowed, 12th in the NBA), are 6th in the NBA in total rebounds (5th overall in offensive rebounds), 8th in blocks, and 8th in 3 point shooting percentage (36.6%). This won't be a cakewalk, though when the two teams last met (still the Mike Brown era) the Lakers had one of the aforementioned "breeze through" games in a 108-79 drummonding. In fact, after starting the season 0-3, the Pistons served as the first W for the 2012-2013 Lakers.

With the next batch of road games including the Pistons, Nets, Celtics, and Bobcats this is a significant stretch for the Lakers to gain ground on the 8th seed. Houston is only 3.5 games ahead of the Lakers. With or without Dwight, the Lakers need to remain focused and win basketball games. Hopefully they play a more balanced game as opposed to putting up 32 three point field goals and only making 12 of them. Yes, 37.5% is a reasonable percentage from deep, but to put that sample size up in a single game is actually quite unreasonable. It creates far too many transition opportunities and destroys the flow of the game.

If the Lakers pick better shots, cut to the basket, and decide to dump it inside then things should go much smoother. Though, with this group, everything's been turbulent as they keep on working on it.

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN

- How does our sister blog Detroit Bad Boys feel about grabbing the one and only Jose Calderon? Check out their perspective!

- Los Angeles Lakers Tickets

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