Sports Out West

Jordan Hill and Steve Blake’s big performances lead the Lakers past Pistons 114-99

Photo Credit: Lakers.com

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers ended their two-game skid on Sunday night by defeating the Detroit Pistons 114-99 behind another career-best night from Jordan Hill and 16 assists from Steve Blake.

The Lakers used a 16-0 run that spanned from late in the 3rd quarter to midway through the fourth quarter that gave them a 83-71 lead. In the second half, the Lakers shot 61 percent from the field led by Hill scoring 14 points on 7-of-8 from the field, Nick Young‘s 12, and Blake’s seven of his season-high 16 assists.

“Everybody came out there with a lot of energy,” Hill said, who set career highs in points (24) and rebounds (17) in his third double-double of the season. “We don’t have Steve Nash and Kobe (Bryant), so we got guys who know that we know have to step up and (tonight) we all stepped up. We just got to keep going with it.”

Although Los Angeles had double digit scoring outputs from five players, it was also their defense in the second half that forced Detroit to shoot 36 percent from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range. It was a collective performance on both ends of the floor that impressed head coach Mike D’Antoni.

“I just thought the way they moved the ball and the way the energy that they had, on both ends of the floor,” D’Antoni said. “There were some individual performances and there was a lot of them. Jordan Hill obviously sticks out, but the way Nick Young played, Wesley Johnson and Steve Blake. I don’t want to leave anyone out because there was a lot of them that just played super.” 

It was a stark contrast from the first half where they allowed Detroit to shot 64 percent from the field, which included four Pistons scoring in double figure with a combined 33 points on 75 percent shooting coming from Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

The Lakers were able to combat Detroit’s hot shooting in the first half with Hill nearly getting a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, and Blake recording nine assists.

As for Los Angeles shooting well in the second half, Blake believes it was team’s ability to move without the ball that made it possible.

“It was just the way we play, (as) we play with a good pace. It kind of gets them out of their rhythm,” Blake said, who with his 16 assists on Sunday made it his fourth consecutive game with at least 10 assists. “It’s all about our chemistry of knowing how to set the screen and where to roll, and when our guards back a cut out to the corner. We are moving extremely well without the ball and that is what it takes for us (to be successful).”

As the Lakers have five days until their next game on Friday at Staples Center against the Golden State Warriors, Pau Gasol is looking forward to the next few days to translate Sunday’s performance into a good week of practice in order to get ready for their next opponent.

“(The Warriors) are a tough team. They are loaded, a very good team and are better defensively,” Gasol said, who had 12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in Sunday’s win. “I think it’s going to be a good game for us because we are going to be coming off three days of practice. So hopefully Kobe (Bryant) will be practicing with us and let’s see when he will be able to come back. I think it’s going to be a very helpful and selective routine these days to play Friday and Sunday. We will be ready Friday, (as) we will be well rested and ready to.”

It will be the second meeting between the team’s as they played in Los Angeles’ second game of the season, which was  blowout 125-94 loss for the Lakers at the Oracle Arena.

Bench is Home

Since moving to the bench in last Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, Nick Young has steadily produced over the four game span as he is averaging 16.5 points per game and chipped in with 19 points in Sunday’s win over the Pistons.

“I am playing with the mindset to just go hard,” Young, who scored 12 of 19 points in the second half of Sunday’s game. “I know now that my team needs me to score buckets and that is what I am trying to do.”

D’Antoni credits Young’s increased scoring to his improved play on defense.

“Obviously he has handled it well, and he said he doesn’t care and will play hard no matter what,” D’Antoni said. ” Nick is a great guy. I just like his concentration on defense and ability to sustain his energy. That’s always been a little bit of the knock (on him) and he is really trying to do the best he can do. Now (with that) he becomes very dangerous on offense because the other stuff is not negative and his offense has always been good.”

Heading into Sunday night, Young ranked fourth in the league for points per game off the bench among players who have played multiple games off the bench.

Photo Credit: Lakers.com

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.