Coming into this Lakers season, expectations were wildly lower than last year’s. Even then, the likes of Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks, and Steve Blake were not expected to be key contributors on the squad, looked at us not much more than glorified role players. Sunday night, that trio stepped into the spotlight and gave some memorable performances: Hill with career highs in points (24) and rebounds (17), Blake’s 16 assists, and Meeks’ hot-shooting display of 19 points. Despite trailing at halftime, the Lakers rallied big in the second half and cruised to a 114-99 victory.
For much of the first half, the Lakers looked stagnant and uninterested. A completely different team came out in the second half as they piled on 56 points and held off a late Brandon Jennings run to secure tacos for the energetic fans at Staples Center on the evening. Hill’s 24 points was a game-high amount, while Meeks and Nick Young each added in 19 on the evening. All 10 Lakers who played scored on the evening, while all but Young grabbed a rebound also.
Early on in the contest, Detroit looked to be more than the Lakers could handle, getting an array of dunks and lobs, none more spectacular than Jennings’ off-the-backboard lob to Andre Drummond on the fastbreak. The dunk even brought Lakers fans out of their seats, but the high-flying act didn’t carry over into the second half.
An energized Lakers unit came out and immediately began cutting into the lead, tying it up at 62 with just over five minutes remaining. Then came the run that changed the landscape of the game. Trailing 71-69 with 1:44 remaining, the Lakers held the Pistons scoreless until a free throw with 9:16 remaining in the fourth. In the meantime, the Lakers poured in 16 unanswered points to not only take the lead, but take control of the game.
The lead never got back into single digits despite Jennings burying four consecutive threes late in the fourth, threatening the Lakers fans taco hopes more than the lead in the game itself. Jennings did lead the Pistons with 23 points, while Drummond was held to a “quiet” 14 points and 13 rebounds. Josh Smith added 18 and Greg Monroe had 17, but Detroit only got 20 points off their bench in the losing effort.
Pau Gasol added a very well-rounded 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists while Wesley Johnson had 11 points, a variety of those coming on an array of high-flying alley-oops himself. Jordan Farmar pulled himself out of his slump, despite finishing with just six points.
The Lakers have a long break, not seeing the court again until Friday when they take on the Warriors.