In Friday night’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Los Angeles Lakers fought hard until the end, but couldn’t pull out a victory. Without their best closer, this has been an unfortunate trend so far this season and the confidence in the locker room seems to be wavering with a 4-7 record.
Kobe Bryant returned to the practice court for the first time since rupturing his Achilles on Saturday and hopefully it will re-energize the Lakers heading into tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
Frontcourt: With the signing of Josh Smith during the off-season, the Pistons have perhaps the biggest and most athletic frontline in the NBA. Unfortunately, it hasn’t translated to wins as they have struggled early on this season. Detroit is only 21st in rebounding (41.9) and allow the seventh most points in the league (102.5).
Backcourt: During the off-season, the Pistons also acquired Brandon Jennings for Brandon Knight to provide more offensive punch in the backcourt. While Jennings is averaging 17.5 points, he is only shooting 38 percent from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc. In addition, the Pistons are 20th in assists (19.8) because their backcourt comprises of offensive minded players.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
Clog The Lane: With the Pistons second to last in three point shooting (27 percent) and no real perimeter threat, the Lakers need to make sure they clog the lane. The Pistons are much more athletic and will try to outrun and outjump the Lakers any opportunity they get. The Lakers will need to play sound defense and focus on keeping the points in the paint to a minimum.
Defensive Rebounding: There are likely going to be a lot of missed shots from the Pistons and the Lakers need to limit them to one shot every possession. If the Lakers give up offensive rebounds, they will likely result in easy baskets around the rim for Drummond, Monroe, and Smith.
Pau Gasol: The Lakers have put themselves in position to win most of their games this season, but fall short without a true closer. With the Lakers three games under the .500 mark, Gasol needs to assume this role until Kobe Bryant returns. It doesn’t mean that Gasol has to shoot every single possession, but being aggressive will create open shots for his teammates.
Heading into tonight’s game, the Lakers are 2.5-point underdogs via Sportsbook.
Detroit Pistons (3-5) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (4-7)
6:30 PM PST, November 17, 2013
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: ESPN Radio 710
Pistons Projected Starting Line-up
PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Chauncey Billups
SF: Josh Smith
PF: Greg Monroe
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: SG Rodney Stuckey, PG Will Bynum, SF Kyle Singler