The Pistons are riding a 3 game win streak after losing 4 of 5. They have been on the road for a majority of January (10 games away vs. 5 at home) and as a result have posted an 8-6 record for the month. While that represents a cooling off since the beginning of the season, they still sit comfortably in second in the Eastern Conference, 4 games behind Boston and 4 ahead of Orlando.
In their last game against Indiana, Rasheed torched the Pacers on the inside, taking advantage of Jermaine O’Neal’s absence. The Pacers played a solid game and Mike Dunleavy in particular, but the Pistons were able to take care of business in the end. In somewhat of an anomaly, the Pistons bench was effective, with all their players getting at least 10 minutes. However, on the whole, their bench has been less effective than hoped other than Jason Maxiell. Maxiell is a tough undersized power forward who’s battle with Ronny should be a treat.
Another regular battle when the Pistons and Lakers face each other is Tayshaun Prince guarding Kobe. Prince’s numbers are down from last season and there are rumors that his defense is a little less sturdy than in the past, but he has always frustrated Kobe with his length and made him work extra hard for each basket.
In their earlier meeting this season, the Lakers came back strong in the 4th quarter to win 103-91. The Pistons were missing Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess in that game, which depleted an already thin bench. Lamar had a particularly strong game with 25 and 15 and 3 Lakers off the bench had double figures, Jordan, Andrew and Vladi. Kobe started slowly, but was instrumental in the 4th quarter comeback and finished with 19 and 7 assists.
This game marks the beginning of a 5 game home stand for the Pistons and the beginning of the Lakers’ 9 game road trip.