A football game broke out at the Palace of Auburn Hills and the Lakers were pounded on the glass. Like the underdog they are, the fought back and found a way to win, squeaking by the Pistons 106-102 in Detroit to go 2-1 on their mini road trip.
Detroit is dominant in the paint with their size and the finishing ability of their front court. Unfortunately for them they are poor shooters from the outside and the free throw line. They terrorize teams with their offensive rebounding. In the first quarter, the Pistons scored at will on layups, dunks and put backs off the glass. The Lakers were able to keep pace by making 4 three pointers, 2 by Wesley Johnson who had 8 points in the period. They trailed 32-31 after the first quarter.
The second quarter featured all of the roller coaster elements that have made the Lakers both frustrating to watch and exciting to root for. Shawne Williams made this third three pointer of the night to give the Lakers a 34-32 lead. The Pistons then went on a 15-4 run built on Laker turnovers and defensive lapses in the paint. Sloppy passing marked this stretch midway through the 2nd as 10 Lakers’ turnovers lead to 17 fast break points and a ridiculous 48 points in the paint.
Wesley Johnson then scored 10 points over the final 4:26 of the half to take back the lead 56-55 at the midway point. Johnson scored 18 points at the half, including 4 three pointers and a spectacular alley-oop from the in-bounder at the buzzer. The play was identical to Earl Clark’s dunk from last season, which also occurred in Detroit. Steve Blake dished out 7 assists in the half.
In the third, Josh Smith and Rodney Stuckey took over the game. Smith had a poor shooting night but dominated the glass with 7 offensive rebounds (18 overall), 8 assists and 5 steals. The Lakers repeatedly turned over the ball and they trailed by 10 87-77 after three. Wesley Johnson had 9 in the quarter and finished with 27 for the game.
The fourth quarter was a series of runs that began with a strong push by the Lakers led by Shawne William’s 8 quick points.He finished with a season high 20 points. The lead was cut to 93-91 with 5:50 to play. It then became the Brandon Jennings show. Jennings scored 8 consecutive points to stretch the Piston’s lead back to 8 points.
The best quality of the Lakers this season has been their grit and competitiveness. The team fought back as Jordan Farmar scored 7 points down the stretch to give the Lakers back the lead at 101-99 with 1:24 remaining. Nick Young took a charge of Josh Smith with 8 seconds remaining to seal the game. Despite 3 late misses at the free throw line, the Lakers were able to hold on.
The Lakers had 17 turnovers. Jordan Farmar had 13 points and Pau Gasol had 13 points and 12 rebounds. For the Pistons Rodney Stuckey had 22 points, Greg Monroe and Brandon Jennings had 19 points each and Josh Smith had 8 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals. As a team they had 22 offensive rebounds.
They return home on Sunday to play the Portland Trailblazers.