Read about the Lakers vs. Pistons games as it unfolds. As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
Pistons: Allen Iverson*
*Detroit listed both Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace as “DND,” which translates to “Did Not Dress” and obviously means neither will play.
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom and Gasol
Pistons: Rodney Stuckey, Arron Afflalo, Tayshaun Prince, Antonio McDyess and Kwame Brown
Phil Jackson Pregame
Jackson explained that L.A.’s seven-year struggle in Detroit was just “One of those things” that happens when one team establishes dominance over another. Of course, Tayshaun Prince’s defense on Kobe Bryant, and Detroit’s defense in general over the last few years has made it tough for any team to come into the Palace and win. L.A.’s coach, who will tie Pat Riley also talked about making sure his team doesn’t underestimate Detroit’s young guys that his team doesn’t know well, and answered a few questions about Kwame Brown.
12:00 Perched in the second row behind Mychal Thompson and Spero Dedes, I had a better view of L.A.’s extensive pregame routine. If you haven’t seen it on camera, the most important thing to know is that Josh Powell has retained the honor of being the last guy to slap hands/dap/insert handshake here with each starter.
11:22 Taking advantage of the young Afflalo, Bryant used a pump fake to get to the line and open the scoring by hitting 1-of-2.
10:10 Kobe didn’t wait long for an explosive play … maybe he’s warm tonight? Driving right around Afflalo, Bryant went up fast in the middle of the lane before hammering down with his left hand, producing the “Ohhh’s” and “Ahhh’s” from the fans. After Shannon Brown’s two huge fourth quarter dunks in OKC, he told me it’s pretty tough to do that (even for a young guy) upon just checking into a game, which makes Bryant’s move more impressive.
7:35 Odom copied Bryant’s explosion to the rim, but opted to lay it in, moments after he’d hit a perimeter jumper. Gasol then hit his first shot as L.A. opened 5-of-6 to take an 11-6 lead.
“Jay’s Comedy Stimulus Plan”
Jay Leno’s putting on two shows for the unemployed right here in the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 7 and 8, which is pretty cool. What I’m wondering is who pays for the food and drinks? Rumor has it fans won’t have to pay for parking, drinks, or anything.
3:22 In a game that was starting to look a lot like L.A.’s blowout win in OKC on Tuesday, the Lakers jumped out to a 17-8 lead when Fisher finished a fastbreak that had resulted out of a great defensive possession. In fact, L.A.’s defense was in top form throughout, forcing the Pistons to settle for long jumpers in a 4-for-16 effort. It makes sense, since this Pistons starting lineup doesn’t have much offensive firepower, but you can still credit the Lakers for their collective focus.
2:13 The Pistons finally hit double digits on a Will Bynum jumper.
1:29 Putting Jordan Farmar and Luke Walton in for Ariza and Fisher, as Jackson’s now done for three straight games, only helped the Lakers to close out the quarter with consecutive hoops by Farmar (off a slick baseline move), Gasol (six points) and Odom (seven points).
0:00 When the first quarter dust had settled, L.A. held a commanding 25-12 lead and looked nearly impenetrable on defense, allowing a season low for points in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, they hit 12-of-18 shots (67 percent) from a variety of angles. That’s five consecutive excellent quarters for the Lakers.
9:30 After some kid hit a halfcourt shot at the break to get Detroit’s crowd going for the first time, the Pistons scored the first nine points of the quarter to close to 25-21, much to Phil Jackson’s displeasure. The flow of the game had changed rather quickly, with L.A. missing the perimeter shots and Detroit getting good looks. There’s no way to prove that Detroit would have continued to struggle were the young man not to drain that shot, but it’s one writer’s opinion.
8:40 The run reached 11-0 and forced a Lakers’ timeout, prompting Jackson to insert Bryant, Ariza, Odom, Mbenga and Fisher – in other words, a complete lineup change – into the game. Detroit had made 4-of-6 shots while the Lakers had failed to score.
7:18 The change didn’t slow Detroit’s subs down, however, as Walter Herrmann (from Argentina) nailed his second triple, and Ariza turned the ball over for the second straight possession. In related news, the teams did not actually change uniforms at the quarter break.
6:44 Ariza’s layup finally stopped Detroit’s 17-0 burst that had seen them turn a 13-point quarter deficit into a four-point lead.
5:08 The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, got interviewed courtside. L.A.’s play to start the second quarter was exactly the opposite of her singing career. As a reference point, L.A. had made just 2-of-14 shots to score five points in seven minutes.
2:36 Fisher’s shot was way off in the first half, as witnessed by a not-close three that made him 1-of-7 …
1:55… Until he canned his next attempt to make it 40-35 Pistons.
0:41.0 This probably won’t make the highlight shows later, but Odom made an extremely difficult running layup look easy, bursting to his right and using his left hand to spin the ball back towards the hoop in a, um, reverse finger roll? His make had followed Gasol’s open jumper, and sandwiched around two solid defensive possessions, got L.A. quickly back within three going into halftime after they’d trailed by seven at the 1:45 mark.
So, L.A. was fantastic in the first 12 minutes, horrible in the next 10 and solid in the final two of the half. The starters were just fine – Bryant and Odom in particular were both +9 – but Josh Powell and Sasha Vujacic notched -12′s in their 3:24 of burn. Basically, L.A. matched its lowest scoring defensive quarter with its lowest scoring offensive quarter. Not coincidentally, L.A. produced only two bench points on 1-of-8 shooting. Perhaps Jackson goes back to Odom with the second unit in the fourth quarter?
10:14 If you’ve seen a Pistons game on TV, you know about Detroit’s super loud and excitable PA announcer. His latest call over the loudspeakers: “Out of bounds on the sideline!!!!!!!!!!!!” Will Bynum managed a hoop to put Detroit up eight (a McDyess J would make it 10 before a Lakers timeout), but I still still thinking that this guy is like Gus Johnson without the journalism skills.
8:46 Fisher’s corner jumper followed a Bryant and-1 jumper off glass to cut Detroit’s lead in half. Subsequently, Odom made a nice defensive play to turn the Pistons over, and Fisher hit his third straight jumper, this time a triple, to make it 50-48.
5:11 After Bryant’s layup, Ariza streaked up the floor in transition and followed Fisher’s three-point miss with a powerful two-handed jam that cut Detroit’s lead to one and caused a Michael Curry timeout.
4:40 And there’s the lead back. Trailing 50-40 moments ago, L.A.’s 16-5 run put them on top by a point.
3:26 The guy who makes more savvy-veteran plays than almost anybody in the league – Fish, of course – made two more, sneaking into a wide open three and then using Afflalo’s lack of defensive position to draw two free throws. Another savvy vet, Bryant, then drew two free throws of his own off another good defensive possession to complete an 11-0 run that put L.A. up 63-55.
1:13 When Bryant checked out after leading the Lakers on a 15-0 run that put them up 12, he gave Vujacic a rather stern and forceful “Let’s go!” Vujacic responded with an energetic defensive possession, then calmly nailed an end-of-the-shot-clock triple to make it 70-55 Lakers. Another excellent defensive possession ended the quarter in Detroit failed to score in the final 6:42 of action.
For the period, L.A. outscored the Pistons 31-13, including the final 20 points of the quarter.
11:10 The best part of L.A.’s run was that Detroit’s PA announcer wasn’t able to open his mouth for a good six minutes, which finally changed when Will Bynum (we’re typing “Will” every time to avoid confusion) hit 1-of-2 free throws. Jackson went with this lineup: Farmar, Vujacic, Walton, Odom and Gasol.
8:47 A timeout with L.A.’s trimmed by five allowed us to watch Pittsburgh’s point guard (Fields) nail a ridiculous pull-up triple to put his squad up two over Xavier in the final minute. Fields followed that up with a huge steal that netted the Panthers a three-point lead, likely keeping many of our brackets alive.
7:57 Back in Detroit, Walton went down real hard after a tough defensive foul, but popped right back up, making me think of his brotherly battles growing up that we talked about in the last episode of the Popcorn Machine, which you can download on iTunes by searching for “Lakers” or “Popcorn Machine.” Don’t think for a second that we’re above plugging our own stuff within our own stuff…
One thing to watch for in the coming few games – Jackson has yet to have a Lakers lineup on the floor that didn’t feature either Gasol, Bryant or both.
5:55 Kobe showing his wide-ranging game … First a hesitation drive past Herrmann, then a fake hesitation move to a pull-up J that put L.A. up 80-64. If Detroit didn’t have a very effective Will Bynum (23 points???) the lead would be twice as large.
4:45 Bryant did it with the pass that time, netting his seventh assist on a great look at a triple from Odom: swish. Quick number check: Odom had 12, 10 and six, and Bryant 25, eight and seven.
3:31 The starters remained on the floor with these minutes: 38 for Gasol and Odom and 36 for Kobe. Apparently Jackson didn’t trust the bench even with a 17-point lead, or rather, was trying to send a message?
2:01 Jackson left Gasol and Ariza on the floor while sending Shannon Brown, Vujacic and Powell in for the Lakers, who would eventually finish with a 92-77 victory heading into a back-to-back in New Jersey.