Lakers vs. Pistons Pre-Game Report: 3-Game Road Trip Begins in Detroit

Los Angeles Lakers (23-14) at Detroit Pistons (12-26)
4:30 PM PST, March 6, 2012
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, Michigan
Radio: 710 AM (English), 1330 AM (Spanish)

Pistons Projected Starting Line-Up:
PG: Brandon Knight
SG: Rodney Stuckey
SF: Tayshaun Prince
PF: Jason Maxiell
C: Greg Monroe

Key Reserves: G Ben Gordon, F Jonas Jerebko

The Lakers are winners of eight of their last 10 games, enough to pull a half-game in front of the Clippers for first place in the Pacific Division. Their latest victory came on Sunday afternoon when they defeated the Miami Heat 93-83 behind 33 points from Kobe Bryant. Tonight the team gets back on the road for a three-game trip beginning in Detroit, continuing on Wednesday in Washington, and culminating in Minnesota on Friday. The Lakers are just 6-12 away from Staples. Meanwhile, the Pistons, losers of four of their last five games, have disappointed this season, averaging 89.1 points (28th in the NBA), 40.2 rebounds (26th), and 18.5 assists (26th) per game.

Frontcourt: The Pistons have Compton-born forward Tayshaun Prince in their frontcourt for the tenth season. Throughout his career, Prince has been as consistent as they come. This season has been no different for Prince, who averages 12.2 points (12.8 career), 4.5 rebounds (4.7), and 2.4 assists (2.7) per game. Prince’s versatility has become his identity over the years. This couples well with his teammate Jason Maxiell, who is more of a big body. Still, at 6’7″ he does not possess the size that the Lakers do with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Maxiell is reliable for his share of rebounds, a tad under five per game. He averages 5.6 points per game, but otherwise does not factor much into the offense. That leads to the superstar of the Pistons, Greg Monroe. Monroe has broken out this season, averaging 16.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Monroe’s ascension towards the upper-echelon of the league’s players is only beginning. On February 22nd, he scored 30 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against the Toronto Raptors. Then, he outdid that performance with a 19 point, 20 rebound outing against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Backcourt: With the eighth pick of the NBA Draft, the Pistons selected 20-year old guard Brandon Knight from the University of Kentucky, a school that fell just one win shy of reaching last year’s NCAA Tournament Finals. Now as a member of the Pistons, Knight is handed a young team that has much hope for the future, but will struggle for the time being. In his first season he is averaging 12.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. Knight is more of a shoot-first point guard that will pass if covered. He takes quite a few shots for a rookie despite lacking the confidence shooting just 40 percent from the field on the season. The youth movement continues with Rodney Stuckey, who seems to have just joined the NBA yesterday but is already in his fifth season at age 25. Stuckey packs no punch from long distance, but can nail a shot or two from time-to-time when called upon. Stuckey is prone to turn the ball over, which the Lakers can take full advantage of. Still, he is good for 15 points per game and can be a game-changer.

Fun Facts:

  • The Lakers lead the overall series against the Pistons by a margin of 197-127. The Lakers have won five straight games against Detroit and their last three in Detroit by an average of 13.3 points.
  • Kobe Bryant has scored 30+ points in his last three games. In his last visit to Detroit he scored 33 points.
  • Pistons center Greg Monroe has 19 double-doubles this season.

Keys to a Laker Victory:

Force Turnovers
The Pistons are prone to turning the ball over. This is an easy way to take control on the road where the Lakers have been playing better as of late, but still otherwise bad.

Suffocate the Guards
Stuckey and Knight love to shoot, but are by no means superstars. Shutting the two guards down will put all the pressure on Monroe, who is very good, but cannot handle all the load on his own.

Double Monroe
Greg Monroe is good, but Gasol and Bynum are better. Both bigs will be far too much for Monroe to handle, forcing him to look elsewhere.

Best-Case Prediction: Lakers 99, Pistons 71
Worst-Case Prediction: Pistons 101, Lakers 98

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