For an 0-3 Lakers team, apparently the equally winless Pistons team was just the medicine they needed. After leading 34-13 after just 12 minutes, Los Angeles pretty much cruised for the rest of the game and won handily, 108-79.
Even without Steve Nash, the Lakers had no real trouble with Detroit at any point in the game, as each starter (besides Nash replacement Steve Blake) scored at least 14 points and had at least five rebounds. Dwight Howard had nearly zero resistance, shooting 12-of-14 on his way to 28 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Even Kobe Bryant, one of the most-criticized guards in term of passing, dished out eight assists in addition to his 15 points and seven rebounds.
On the Pistons side of things, not much went right. No starter scored more than nine points and the starting five shot a combined 11-of-39 from the field, the team secured just 33 total rebounds, and they had 19 assists to 16 turnovers. Rodney Stuckey has yet to show up in the young season, going 0-for-6 and zero points. He is now 1-for-23 on the season from the field.
Greg Monroe was the lone starter who put up a half-way decent line – eight points, seven rebounds, four steals, one steal and one block – but he shot just 40% from the field and offered little to no resistance against Howard.
What Went Wrong
- Low post defense – Howard made 12 of his 14 shots, most within the lower part of the paint. He wasn’t the only one abusing the Pistons down low, though – the Lakers scored 56 there on Sunday. Detroit gave up 50 to Houston and 48 to Phoenix; where is the defense that helped them play .500 basketball down the stretch last season? Additionally, rookie Andre Drummond must keep getting minutes, as he has provided at least one block in all three games thus far.
- Ball control issues – The Lakers forced the Pistons into 16 turnovers, picking off 11 passes and blocking eight Piston shots. With young and inexperienced Brandon Knight being the primary ballhandler, it’s going to be a work in progress in this category. Knight has shown flashes of hope at the point guard position, but he’s clearly trying too hard and forcing the issue instead of picking apart defenses.
- Poor starts – LA went up 8-2 on Detroit in less than three minutes to start the game, forcing Lawrence Frank to quickly call a timeout to stop the bleeding. The Pistons responded with two baskets to get close again, but the Lakers promptly went on a 26-7 run to end the quarter and essentially deliver a knockout. Detroit never really responded and was outscored in three of the four quarters (they did outscore LA in the fourth, 24-22).
What Went Right
- Making free throws – In a game where points were at a premium, the Pistons shot well above the league average from the charity stripe, hitting 19-of-23 free throws. Considering how much of a problem this was for the team through the preseason, seeing continued improvement from the line is something positive from a game full of negatives.
- Strong bench play – Jonas Jerebko and Kyle Singler, two of Detroit’s top reserves thus far, scored a combined 29 points – two more points than the entire starting lineup. In fact, the Pistons’ bench outscored the Lakers’ 52-27; they accounted for all four of the team’s three-point makes and 16 of the 33 team rebounds. If the bench can play like this later in the season, and the starters can regain some semblance of their past offense, the Pistons will be much more competitive than Sunday night.
The Pistons will look to secure their first win of the season against another 0-3 team on Tuesday, traveling to Denver to take on the new-look Nuggets.
In the lone meeting between these two teams last season, Denver overcame 45 points and 9-of-9 three-point shooting from Ben Gordon to win 116-115 on a Javale McGee tip-in dunk with five seconds left to go.