After losing their fifth consecutive game, the Los Angeles Lakers were back in action at Staples Center Tuesday, as they faced another struggling team, the Detroit Pistons. Despite being knocked out of playoff contention for the first time since the move to LA, the Lakers hoped to end their five game losing streak.
With the hiring of new head coach Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons (23-39) hoped to have a win in their hopes of making the playoffs. The Pistons have an exceptional frontcourt, as they face one of the league’s worst defensive teams, the Lakers. The Lakers have struggled to close out in their past few games.
The Lakers (16-46) on the other hand, have a new addition to their roster, as they recently acquired guard Jabari Brown from the Los Angeles D-Fenders on a 10-day contract. Brown leads the NBA’s D-League with 24.4 points per game. He is also rookie Jordan Clarkson’s former teammate at Missouri. Clarkson, who has been a bright spot since starting, averages 14.4 points and shoots 45.6 percent from the field since being put in the starting lineup.
With a jumper by Wayne Ellington and a floater by Clarkson, the Lakers managed to take a two-point lead, 4-2, over the Pistons. Andre Drummond had an offensive rebound and putback to tie the game at four, but Wesley Johnson answered back with a jumper and three-pointer of his own, to extend the lead to three, with less than eight to go. Reggie Jackson, who was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the trade, cut the Lakers lead to just one, 11-10. Both teams continued to answer each other back on both sides of the court. With 1:07 on the clock, Ed Davis grabbed an offensive rebound and sunk in a layup, to get their largest lead so far in the game of seven, 25-18. A pass from former Laker Jodie Meeks to Drummond, led to a dunk that cut the deficit to five, as the Lakers ended the quarter ahead 25-20 thanks to a strong all-around effort early.
Drummond continued to go to work, getting his first shot of the quarter to go, to start the second quarter and Anthony Tolliver tied the game up at 25, with a three-pointer. A dunk through the middle by Davis, gave the Lakers back their lead by just two, 27-25, less than 10 minutes to play. After a bad block call, clearly all ball, Davis is called for a foul on Tolliver, who sank in two free throws, as the Pistons took the lead for the first time in the game, 28-27. Midway through the second, Tarik Black put up layup, to give the Lakers a four-point lead. With less than five minutes to play, Ellington hit a jumper from behind the arc and another floater by Clarkson gave Lakers lead by five, 39-34. Both teams continued to trade baskets as the Lakers remained in the lead by six, 45-39. Meeks, put up a jump shot from behind the arc, to bring the Pistons to within three. A three by Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, gave the Pistons a one-point lead to end the second.
Both teams went scoreless in the first two minutes, until Clarkson passed to Black for a layup to take the lead, 51-50. Clarkson notched his eighth assist in the game to set a new career-high, with about nine minutes left in the third. Clarkson continued to stay hot with a fast break layup through the middle, Lakers lead by seven. Midway through the third, the Pistons finally get back on the board with a layup by Tayshaun Prince, but Clarkson answered back with a layup off the glass for a 59-52 Lakers lead. With 3:39 left to play in the third, Meeks dropped in another three-pointer with the assist from Prince and Monroe knocked an open shot to cut the deficit to one. The Lakers were able to push back ahead and with less than a minute left in the third Jeremy Lin put in one out of two free throws, for just his third point in the game. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made it a three-point game after a three-point play, but Lin answered back with a shot, 67-61, to end the quarter.
Monroe got the first basket of the quarter as the Pistons cut the Lakers lead to four, but Davis came right back with a layup of his own to keep the Lakers six-point cushion. A three from Meeks cut the Lakers lead to two, but Davis again answered for the Lakers with a hook and an offensive rebound on the next possession. He would hit Ellington for a layup to put the Lakers back up by six. Monroe stopped the quick Laker run with a hook shot, but back-to-back dunks from Davis boosted the Lakers lead to eight. The Pistons would not go quietly as a Monroe basket, and Caldwell-Pope three quickly cut the Lakers lead down to four. Free throws from Kelly and Lin put the Lakers back up seven with less than five minutes remaining. Both teams continued to battle, and an offensive rebound and layup from Drummond cut the Lakers lead to five. Drummond’s work on the offensive glass continued to hurt the Lakers as a tip-in brought the Pistons to within three. The Lakers pushed the lead back out with free throws, but a transition layup from Meeks cut it right back to three. Pistons had a chance to cut it to one, but Monroe missed two free throws, and Hill made them pay with a jumper that put the Lakers ahead five with under a minute left. Ellington got a steal, but was denied at the rim by Caldwell-Pope, who was not able to cap it off with a three on the other end. Lin would hit two free throws to put the Lakers up seven with 30 seconds remaining. The Pistons missed another three and free throws would ice the game for the Lakers. They would snap their losing streak with a 93-85 win.
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