Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening contest against the Pistons with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Blake, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Detroit: B. Knight, R. Stuckey, T. Prince, G. Monroe, J. Maxiell
4:34 Behind the two 7-footers, the Lakers took strong, early control of this one, with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol combining for 13 of the team’s 17 points, with Detroit managing eight and turning the ball over repeatedly (six). The primary focus heading into the game was simple: energy. And L.A. had accomplished that after eight minutes, with 40 to go to sustain it.
0:00 Well, they certainly sustained it to close the first with a 34-13 lead. Bryant had five assists while getting the big men going early (Gasol/Howard combining for 21 points) and then hit back-to-back triples to continue his scorching hot shooting to start the season (62 percent coming in). The D was impressive, forcing the Pistons into 33 percent shooting (LAL at 65 percent) and seven turnovers.
6:30 A good sign off LAL’s bench was the strong play of Darius Morris, who had six points and an alley-oop assist to Howard (16 points) as he helped the second unit build the lead to 44-21. Mike Brown went with a long, strong second group of Morris-Ebanks-Jamison-Hill-Howard, all big at their positions, Brown looking to emphasize D.
0:00 By far the best half of the early season produced an impressive 62-34 lead at the break, with Howard’s 20 points on 8 of 9 FG’s leading the O, and collective intensity on D forcing 12 Pistons turnovers, and 38 percent shooting to L.A.’s 62.2 percent. The coaches certainly would have to work hard to find a complaint in the locker room.
4:49 Continuing to take out all the anger from a winless Oct./Nov., the Lakers pushed the lead all the way up to 80-44, Howard connecting on a beautiful Gasol pass to reach 26 points. Pistons coach Lawrence Frank responded by subbing out his entire starting line up, only to see World Peace connect on his third triple to reach 18 points.
1:00 Detroit’s bench found a bit of life behind Will Bynum (eight points, three assists), but the lead remained at 29 after reaching as many as 36. Bryant and Howard checked out with about four minutes to go in the quarter, at 27 and 30 minutes played; Mike Brown certainly didn’t want to have to bring those two back into the game. Bryant had 13 points (3 of 4 from three) with his game-high eight assists (he had four in the first three games).
8:30 With a poor stretch of play from the group of Morris-Ebanks-Jamison-Hill-Sacre, Mike Brown went back to Bryant, Howard, Blake and Bryant (Jamison staying on), despite the lead still being at 24 points. A put-back slam from Dwight had him up to 28 points and seven boards, the lead at 96-71 with 5:33; we’ll see how long the starters stay in.
4:14 Bryant, Blake and Gasol joined Howard on the bench, at last, needing to play only 32, 31 and 33 minutes in the process with their team up 99-73, the game on ice.
0:00 The final in an impressive all-around effort long overdue: 108-79. Howard looked the best he has on D as he continues to get in better game shape, Bryant was efficient and effective on O and Metta World Peace notched a season-high 18 points, both hitting three triples. Jordan Hill chipped in 11 points and seven boards off the pine, and the Lakers forced 17 Pistons turnovers. Next is a road contest at Utah on Wednesday; we’ll see you there.