The Los Angeles Lakers may have a lowly 3-16 record this season, but one of their three wins came against the team they visit on Sunday -- the Detroit Pistons. In that mid-November battle, the Lakers held the Pistons to a 36.5 percent field goal percentage while we saw distributor Kobe Bryant drop 17 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds to lead the team to a 97-85 victory at Staples Center.
You would think that any team that lost to the Lakers this season would not have a good record , but the Pistons are 11-9 and are currently on a three-game winning streak after defeating the Rockets, Bucks, and Suns. Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson are putting up ridiculous numbers in the process. Drummond is averaging 18.5 points and 17.0(!) rebounds per game, while Jackson is averaging over 20 points and nearly seven assists per game.
The Lakers, on the other hand, have not won three in a row like Detroit. In fact, they've lost eight of their last nine games since beating the Pistons. But while the Lakers are struggling, that doesn't mean the team isn't worthy of attention. Kobe Bryant's retirement tour is becoming a thing to watch in its own right. Opposing teams and fans are embracing him like one of their own, and Kobe is continuously trying to deliver some jaw-dropping moments that were all too common in the past. Unfortunately, most of the time Kobe's attempt at trying to re-create that magic hasn't gone too well as he's shooting just 30.5 percent from the field. Frankly, with how inefficient he's been this season, he's been a detriment to the Lakers, but he's going out the way he wants. There's nothing that we can do or that Byron Scott will do to stop that.
And since this will be Kobe's last time playing at the Palace of Auburn Hills, it would be wrong to omit the history he's had there. Detroit was the city where Bryant lost in the NBA Finals for the first time, and even though he said he doesn't think about it too much, it's hard to forget what that series meant for the Lakers franchise and Kobe himself. It essentially ended the Kobe-Shaq dynasty and who knows how many rings Kobe would have if that championship had gone differently. I bet Kobe would love nothing more than to make his final memory in Detroit a positive one.
Of course, Kobe isn't the only Laker to have a not-so-glorious past in Detroit. Over ten years ago, Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest) was handed a season-long suspension for his role in the infamous "Malice at the Palace" brawl.
Okay, that's enough history. Let's look at the future.
Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell, and Jordan Clarkson have been improving each and every game for the Lakers lately. Despite the team picking up losses left and right, the young core is generating plenty of optimism for the team's future. Russell has scored in double figures in seven of his last nine games, and he just recored his first double-double in the Lakers' last game against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes. Julius Randle is averaging 11.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game this season and had a 16-point, 19-rebound performance against the Wizards on Wednesday. Clarkson, meanwhile, is proving to be the Lakers' best player.
It's definitely been a tough season in terms of wins and losses, but these three provide plenty of intrigue each and every night nonetheless. Here's hoping this game proves to be no different.
Time: 3 p.m. PT
TV: TWCSN, FSD