The Los Angeles Lakers snapped their two-game losing skid with an end-to-end 113-93 victory over the Detroit Pistons, a win that boasted extra significance because it came against the former team of their starting shooting guard, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The Pistons rescinded Caldwell-Pope’s qualifying offer this summer, turning him from a restricted free agent into an unrestricted one, but the melody had already stopped in the musical chairs of free agency, leaving the Lakers able to swoop in and sign the five-year veteran to a one-year, $17.7 million deal rather than having to tender the type of multi-year offer Caldwell-Pope was probably seeking when he entered free agency.
Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points and grabbed 6 rebounds during the win, avoiding having to singlehandedly lead the Lakers in some type of “revenge game” effort because of the team chemistry the Lakers’ demonstrated as they walloped his former outfit, and after the game he said he enjoyed himself in the victory.
“It was fun. I knew they were going to come out here and be competitive and I just wanted to get my team ready and play the same way, and we did that tonight.”
The Lakers were ready to play from the jump, outscoring Detroit in all four quarters of the game and holding the Pistons to 43.6 percent shooting overall, something that Caldwell-Pope was able to aid while playing hounding, rangy defense that won’t show up in his box score.
As one of the veteran leaders on a young Lakers roster, Caldwell-Pope’s professionalism in not crowing too hard and acting like he expected to beat his former team can also serve as a good example for his more green teammates off the court.
The Lakers aren’t likely to contend for anything this season, but if Caldwell-Pope can continue to help get them ready the way he did against the Pistons and convince them they should expect to win every game, his contributions to the team culture could have far-reaching benefits even if he isn’t with the team beyond this season.
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