Playing the best offensive team in the NBA probably wasn’t the cure for what has ailed the Detroit Pistons this season, and sure enough, they fell behind big early and never threatened the defending champs in a 103-90 loss at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Lakers were led by a red-hot Kobe Bryant, who had 33 points, nine rebounds and four assists in only 33 minutes of action. Bryant could have threatened the 50-point plateau but played sparingly in the second half as the Lakers had a 20+ point lead. Joining Bryant in Piston domination was Pau Gasol with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Detroit had no answer for either player, as a revolving door of defenders were consistently schooled by the Lakers’ pair. And while Bryant consistently hit tough shots, Gasol made everything look easy. The Pistons had no size to push him off his spots in the post and no length to bother his hookshots and turnaround jumpers.
It was clear that it wasn’t going to be Detroit’s night five minutes into the first quarter as Bryant had scored eight of the Lakers’ 11 points, and starting shooting guard Richard Hamilton was quickly given two technicals for exchanging words with an official and was ejected from the game.
Hamilton getting the heave isn’t necessarily a bad thing as hot as Ben Gordon has been, but he picked tonight to have his first truly bad shooting night of the year, going just 3-11 from the floor. And another logical Hamilton replacement, Tracy McGrady, was limited after he suffered a vicious ankle injury after Shannon Brown rolled onto his ankle. McGrady was able to shoot his free throws, rested on the bench for a bit and played some more, but was limited to 15 minutes on the night.
The Pistons were led by Rodney Stuckey with 18 points, but he shot only 7-17 from the floor and it looks like that 45 percent shooting mark he displayed in the preseason isn’t going to carryover through the regular season. Greg Monroe again didn’t see much daylight off the bench until garbage time in the fourth quarter. But when he did get to play, he responded positively, hustling and staying active. He finished the night with four rebounds, four points, four rebounds, two steals and an assist in 12 minutes of action.