The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off an impressive 121-107 win over the New York Knicks on Monday night. The win marked the Lakers first road win in nearly a month and a half. Luke Walton decided before the game that he would sit Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng, the Lakers biggest offseason acquisitions. Seven players finished in double figures as Lou William led the team with 22 points. Today the Lakers travel to Detroit and prepare to face off against the Pistons.
Detroit is coming off an 113-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers also on Monday night. Center, Andre Drummond, had a huge game as he finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. They currently sit in the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 24-28 record.
Starting in the backcourt for the Pistons are Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Jackson has emerged as a solid second-tier point guard in the league. He is averaging 16 points and 5.5 assists per game. Pistons coach, Stan Van Gundy, has helped Jackson be more of a complete player. He has the ability to light up the scoreboard on any given night. D’Angelo Russell has to be ready to play some solid defense against him.
Caldwell-Pope is enjoying a fine season himself. He is averaging 14.3 points per game, including shooting 39.4 percent from behind the arc. He will make defenses pay for leaving him open so the Lakers must be aware of where he is on the floor at all times.
Stanley Johnson and Ish Smith come off the bench for Detroit. Smith is the better offensive player between the two, but Johnson is able to have a bigger impact on game because of his versatility. He can defend multiple positions and uses his body to make things difficult for smaller guards.
The play of Russell and Nick Young has the Lakers playing well at the moment. Their scoring has the Lakers offense possibly playing the best it has all season. Russell has done much better job of getting his teammates involved, which has opened the floor for himself. If he can keep up his play consistently for the rest of the season, he gives the Lakers a lot of hope for the future.
Young has been lights out from three-point range lately. On the season, he is shooting 41.5 percent from that distance. His shooting makes defenders stay honest when they are guarding him, leading to room for the other Lakers guards to operate. Hopefully his shooting spree continues as the Lakers prepare to head into the NBA All-Star break.
Nothing more can be said about the way Lou Williams has played this season for the Lakers. He is the team’s leading scorer and best shot creator. Who knows where the Lakers would be without him. Jordan Clarkson played well against the Knicks finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds. The Lakers need this type of production from Clarkson on a game-to-game basis to be victorious.
Jon Leuer, Marcus Morris, and Andre Drummond hold down the frontcourt positions for the Pistons. Leuer is a solid player who can consistently knock down mid-range jumpers. He is a nice fit in the starting lineup because he can he provides spacing for Morris and Drummond to play down towards the basket.
Morris is averaging 14.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game this season. He has the ability to score in bunches, which makes him a tough matchup for most defenders. In a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves last Friday he finished with 36 points, including 5-of-9 from three-point land. Julius Randle must make things difficult for him today.
Drummond is monster on the glass and his average of 13.7 rebounds per game shows proof of that. Tarik Black, or whoever is guarding him must be fundamental and box him out. Hopefully the bigs’ of the Lakers do their job to prevent him from gaining extra offensive possessions for Detroit.
Tobias Harris and Aron Baynes come off the bench for the Pistons. Harris is the team’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game. His play is important for the Piston’s if they want to be considered a serious contender in the East. Baynes is not afraid to battle down low so Black, Randle, and Ivica Zubac must come ready to compete.
The new look Lakers starting frontcourt of Brandon Ingram, Randle, and Black looks very promising. With Deng and Mozgov struggling, Walton decided to embrace the Lakers youth. Even though it’s only been one game, it looks to be the right decision made. The more the group plays together the more chemistry they will have, which will lead to success down the road.
Luol Deng, Larry Nance Jr., and Ivica Zubac give the Lakers some depth coming off the bench. Maybe Deng coming off the bench will help him as he will not feel the pressure to perform well. If he can improve his play the Lakers will benefit greatly. Nance Jr. and Zubac continue to be solid. Nance Jr. gives constant and energy that his teammates feed off of and Zubac provides the Lakers a nice inside offensive presence. Hopefully both can continue their play.
3 Keys To Victory
The primary objective here is keep Andre Drummond off the glass. If he starts to grab offensive rebounds the Lakers will be in some trouble. That is why it is super important for the Lakers to box out and secure the ball with both hands. Limiting rebounds will limit the Pistons’ ability to run the floor and get easy baskets.
Control The Tempo
The Lakers have a better shot at winning this game if they can control the tempo. With Mozgov and Deng being replaced in the starting lineup, the Lakers can now use a faster pace during games. Playing faster could open up opportunities for easier baskets.
Play With Heart
Recent games have shown the Lakers refusing to give up during games. Only a month ago it felt like when the Lakers went down by double-digit points they would crumble. Since then they have fought hard in every game. If they can keep up this style of play, they give themselves better chances of being victorious.
Los Angeles Lakers (18-38) Vs. Detroit Pistons (24-28)
4:30 P.M. PST, February 8, 2017
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Pistons Starting Lineup:
PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Jon Leuer
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Andre Drummond
Key Reserves: Stanley Johnson, Ish Smith, Tobias Harris, and Aron Baynes
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Julius Randle
C: Tarik Black
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Lou Williams, and Ivica Zubac