Well folks, that was a strange one.
After a dominant first quarter that saw L.A. burst to a 25-12 lead in the Palace at Auburn Hills – a place the Lakers hadn’t won in seven years, mind you – it appeared that the purple and gold would continue its run of seven straight excellent quarters that started in the third quarter at Chicago and ran through Oklahoma City.
Apparently, the Lakers didn’t expect Pistons subs like Walter Herrmann and Will Bynum to stick that theory in the dumper, to the tune of a completely unexpected 17-0 run that turned a 13-point lead into a four-point deficit. As such, L.A. had a battle on its hands…
… At least until the 6:42 mark of the third quarter.
The Pistons had gone up 55-50 on a Kwame Brown layup, before being cut up by a defensive buzzsaw also known as the Los Angeles Lakers, failing to score a single point for the rest of the quarter as L.A. jumped to a 70-55 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The run was 20-0 for the visiting team, as Detroit finished with 13 points in the quarter after scoring 30 in the second after the 12-point stink bomb in the first.
The point was, L.A. won for the third straight time on the road, besting the Pistons in Detroit after nine straight losses that included the Lakers’ 0-for-3 performance in the 2004 NBA Finals.
Kobe Bryant led the way with 30 points, eight boards and seven assists in 39 minutes, while Lamar Odom added 12 points, 10 boards and seven assists of his own in 41 minutes. Also hitting the 40-minute mark was Pau Gasol, who managed 12 points, 11 boards and three assists. On the other hand, L.A.’s bench scored just 15 points, which prompted Phil Jackson to leave his starters on the floor for the bulk of the fourth quarter despite a double-digit lead.
Up next for Kobe and Co. was the second half of a back-to-back in New Jersey on Friday night.
Combined Pistons points in the first and third quarters of Thursday’s game.
Points by Pistons sub Will Bynum on 9-of-14 shooting, not to mention 11 assists in what must have been his best career game.
Points in the paint conceded by the Lakers, who did a great job of keeping the Pistons out of the lane with the exception of Detroit’s 30-point second quarter.
Straight Lakers points to close the final 6:42 of the third quarter, allowing a 15-point lead that L.A. protected without threat in the fourth quarter.
Point run to start the second quarter for the Pistons, turning a 13-point deficit into a four-point lead.
Bench points for the Lakers, who had played well in both Chicago and Oklahoma City before drawing Phil Jackson’s ire in a (far) less than desirable performance.
Lakers starters on the floor despite a 17-point lead with three minutes to play, suggesting that Phil Jackson was trying to send a message to his bench. Finally, with 2:01 to go, Jackson would take Odom, Fisher and Bryant out, but leave Gasol and Ariza on the floor.