Lakers Reaching to Win in Detroit

Tayshaun Prince - Kobe BryantIt’s been a long time since L.A. won in Detroit.

Lakers fans remember the disaster otherwise known as the 2004 NBA Finals, but the losing streak dates even further. In fact, last time L.A. won in Mo-Town, here’s what was going on:

A) Eminem came out with “The Eminem Show”
B) “Chicago” won the Oscar for “Best Picture”
C) Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to their first Super Bowl

The year was 2002 – March, to be more precise – but since then, L.A. has dropped six straight regular season games in the Palace of Auburn Hills, plus the three games in the Finals.

Perhaps that’s why the Lakers seemed particularly focused upon Wednesday’s arrival in Detroit, and even more so on Thursday afternoon subsequent to shootaround. L.A. won’t just be attempting to avenge their losing streak in Michigan, however … The Pistons managed to tag the purple and gold with their first loss of the season on Nov. 14 at STAPLES Center, a 106-95 decision that saw the Pistons shoot very well from the field and make 29-of-34 free throws.

Yet this promises to be a different group of Pistons: The Lakers won’t really know until the inactive list comes out who will be in uniform. Allen Iverson (sore back) has missed the last 14 games; Rasheed Wallace (strained left calf) has missed the last eight games; and Rip Hamilton (strained left groin) has missed the last five games. Hamilton may be the most likely to play, but all were listed as out. Even if those three former All Stars don’t play, the Pistons are tough at home and have beaten five division leaders: Cleveland, Orlando, Boston, Denver and the Lakers.

Detroit will most likely start a lineup of Rodney Stuckey, Arron Afflalo, Prince, Antonio McDyess and Kwame Brown, keying Prince and McDyess as the primary offensive options. Since it’s such a new lineup, L.A.’s coaches expect Detroit to run some basic NBA offensive sets, and know that they’ll probably see at least a little bit of a 2-3 zone on defense.

The game tips at 4:30 p.m. Pacific, and upon its conclusion, the Lakers will leave immediately for New Jersey, against whom they’ll play the second leg of a road back-to-back.