The Lakers ended their east coast road trip with a victory against the Detroit Pistons, 124-117, securing the game early and never fully letting go, despite things getting unnecessarily tight in the closing minutes.
The win ensured they ended their 3-3 road trip on a positive note by snapping a three-game losing streak and improving to 11-15 on the season.
LeBron James got off to a slow start but exploded in the second quarter, starting with ten consecutive points, including back-to-back dunks on Russell Westbrook passes. He ended the night with 35 points and 5 rebounds.
King with our first 10 points of the quarter pic.twitter.com/bPiuOLDvbA— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 11, 2022
The last time the Lakers faced off against Detroit, Anthony Davis had a monster game, scoring 38 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. He didn’t have a game that good tonight, but it was a productive outing for AD. The Pistons’ big men once again had no answer for him, and he avoided foul trouble, stayed aggressive near the rim and was 10-12 from the charity stripe. His 34 and 15 were a big reason the Lakers were able to hang on.
The Lakers started the game out comfortably, largely because the starting lineup took care of business from the jump. With Michigan native (and former Piston) Darvin Ham again opting for a three-guard starting lineup once again, the undersized Lakers were able to stifle the Pistons' offense, as Detroit started the game 1-6 from the field.
This trend continued throughout the first half, with the only starter even remotely effective being Bojan Bogdanović, another shooter constantly in trade rumors involving the Lakers. Maybe this game was a tryout? Either way, he had a career-high for a quarter in the third, scoring 25 in that frame alone, with Patrick Beverley being no match for him as he essentially single-handedly got the Pistons to within one after three quarters. He finished the game with 38 points.
But while Westbrook rumors may continue for the rest of his Lakers tenure, his performance this season has mostly been great, and tonight was no exception. He pushed the pace of the offense, dished 9 assists and, most importantly, only gave away 4 turnovers. When Russ is electric and you suffer less of his downsides, that’s a great place to be and exactly where the Lakers found themselves Sunday night.
In the fourth, the L.A. rose to the occasion to secure the victory. Detroit never went away and the team was red-hot from three, but the Lakers relied on James and AD to make tough baskets and role players like Austin Reaves to do the dirty work hustling for loose balls, drawing fouls and getting rebounds.
The game went down to the final seconds as the Pistons got to within two with 28.8 seconds left (on, what else, a bucket from Bogdanović). This time, the Lakers were able to secure the win with Reaves hitting a huge 3-pointer to give the Lakers a five-point lead off of a James assist. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a victory.
The Lakers are in the middle of a brutal December, but they have a much-needed three-game homestand starting on Tuesday against their biggest rival, the Boston Celtics. Let’s see if they can protect their home court this week and start gaining ground in a brutal Western Conference.