The Los Angeles Lakers blocked an NBA season-high 20 shots en route to a 106-99 home win over the Pistons Jan. 5, which was their fifth straight.
“Out three big guys [Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee] just played exceptional basketball,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said about his trio of bigs after the game. “These guys took a lot of pride in protecting the rim tonight.”
Anthony Davis led the Lakers in scoring with 24 points along with 11 rebounds and 8 blocks. Davis’ eight blocks was the most for a Lakers player since 2003.
“Them guys [Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee] did a great job of protecting the paint as well,” Davis said about having help protecting the paint right after the team’s win. “If we keep playing that way we are a tough team to beat.”
JaVale McGee added 6 blocks which made him and Davis the first duo since 2005 with at least six blocks. McGee finished with 9 points, including his second three of the season
McGee said ‘for sure’ when asked about blocked shots being contagious to his teammates.
Dwight Howard also came up big for the Lakers point defense that held the Pistons to 32 points in the paint, one game after surrendering over 60 points in the paint to the Pelicans.
Their 20 blocks as a team was the most for a Lakers team since 1982. The Lakers made this a block party holding the Pistons to 37 percentage from the field.
LeBron James finished with another triple-double including 21 points, 11 assists and 14 rebounds.
“Dwight, AD and JaVale, they make it easy on us,” LeBron said about the effort from his front court racking up blocked shots. “To know you have that safety net… it’s a heck of a luxury.”
James added that their ability to change shots cleans up a lot of mistakes for the team.
“We know we can do things defensively that other teams can’t because of their length,” James said after the win.
Alex Caruso also played a large role in the Lakers spark off the bench. He added 13 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds off the bench.
“It’s just about winning the game and trying to improve,” Caruso said about the team’s struggle to beat the Pistons despite their record.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope chipped in 10 points as a reserve too. Both K.C.P and Caruso got added run from backcourt injuries.
Avery Bradley started the game for the Lakers. He hit the first shot of the game, a corner three, but left the game in the first half with an ankle injury. X-rays were negative for Bradley and he will be evaluated furter.
Caldwell-Pope also left the game in the first half but he returned after getting re-tapped.
Otherwise, it took a 15-point run at the beginning of the fourth quarter before the Lakers put the sub .500 Pistons away at Staples Center.
Langston Galloway finally ended the Lakers big fourth quarter run with a shot at the 7:30 mark in the fourth quarter. Detroit would go on their own run to bring the game back to a tie. Galloway finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 23 reserve minutes.
“Everything’s got to go right to beat the top team in the league,” Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said after his team’s surprising effort. “We played hard but made just enough mistakes to allow them to get us.”
Detroit shot 11-of-26 from deep and 30-of-35 from the free throw line which kept them in the game. Los Angeles, on the other hand, shot only 69 percent from the free throw line on 23 attempts. They also shot 6-of-20 from three-pointers.
For the Pistons, Derrick Rose led scorers with 28 points and 5 assists in 29 minutes off the bench. Rose was critical in multiple Pistons run.
“We played with urgency tonight,” Rose said about his team’s effort. “We played as hard as we could.”
Moreover, Detroit went 21-of-21 at the free throw line before Drummond missed one midway through the third quarter. This was a big reason the Pistons stayed in the game despite shooting such a poor percentage.
Sekou Doumboya and Christian Wood added 11 points each as starters for Detroit.
Lakers Versus Pistons Game Notes
The first quarter was filled with Lakers highlights including JaVale McGee’s second three of the season, a Lebron to Anthony Davis Alley-oop dunk in transition and more Davis blocks. A.D. was everywhere with 5 points, 5 boards and 4 blocks in the first period. McGee added three blocks while the team had 8 in the first quarter. They already led the NBA averaging 7.1 blocks per game.
Los Angeles led by as much as 13 in the first versus the Pistons. Still, Detroit only trailed 22-23 after Rose free throws to end the first quarter. Rose led a key run with 7 points and 3 assists in the first quarter.
L.A. held a ten-point lead again in the second quarter. Detroit Pistons guard Langston Gallaway converted three-pointer made the game 40-37 with the Pistons only trailing by three.
The Lakers got a nine point lead late within the final two minutes of the first half thanks to consecutive threes. One came from Avery Bradley.
Then after a Detroit miss, Danny Green hit a three in transition to make the game 52-43 in favor of Los Angeles. Green would hit the Lakers next shot too with a reverse layup that made it 54-45.
James hit the quarters final basket with a reverse layup which gave the Lakers a 56-47 lead entering the half. L.B.J registered 10 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds at the halfway point.
Otherwise, Rose lead all scorers with 11 at halftime. Drummond added 10 points and 11 rebounds through two quarters.
Rose continued the scoring in the second half. He added 8 points in the first five minutes of the third. Detroit pulled within two again as former Lakers guard Svi Mykhailiuk scored a three pointer with a 6:44 left in the third.
Baskets got traded through the third quarter. Mykailiuk made another three that tied the game at 71 all with less than three minutes left in the third.
The Pistons took their first lead at the 1:20 mark in the third. Detroit capped off a 29-12 run with consecutive threes from Svi and Galloway to take the lead 79-74 with 59.3 seconds left on the clock for the third. 75-79 was the final tally for the third as the Pistons found a surprising lead.
James brought the Lakers back within two right before the 11 minute mark in the fourth. Rondo tied it up with a layup after an ensuing Pistons miss.
Dwight Howard gave the Lakers a 81-79 lead on a putback jam. James found Howard on the next Lakers possession for an alley-oop dunk that stretched the lead to four.
Caruso converted the three-point play after a layup and dunk that gave the Lakers a 86-79 lead. Caruso added to the Lakers 13-0 run to open the third with a fast break dunk. L.A. led 88-79 with 8:33 left in the fourth.
Galloway finally ended the drought for the Pistons, stopping the Lakers 15-0 run at the 7:30 mark. The Pistons followed that with a Rose layup in transition, followed by another transition dunk that made the game 90-85. Another Svi three made it a two point game at the fourth quarter half mark.
The game got as close as 91-90 with 4:51 as Rose converted both shots at the line to give the Pistons a one-point advantage. James would go 1-of-2 from the line on the next Lakers possession which tied it at 92.
A Lakers possession later, Davis made two free throws to give the Lakers a two-point lead. A LeBron James drive and dunk gave the Lakers an exclamation to their 96-92 lead.
Rose hit a three for the Pistons which brought them within one at 97-98. That was until LeBron found Davis for a three-pointer that made the game 101-97. Dwight Howard got a block on the Lakers next possession. Detroit did not recover as Davis followed that with a bucket that made the game 103-97.
Trade Rumors for Both Squads
Kyle Kuzma trade rumors surfaced prior to the Lakers matchup to the Pistons. The Lakers are more willing to listen to trade pitches for Kuzma even though they still value him as a core piece, according to reports. Kuzma is averaging
The 24-year-old is averaging just 12.1 points while shooting a career-low 42.5 percent from the field. Kuzma finished with 4 points and 4 rebounds on 2-of-8 shooting from the field in 21 minutes off the pine.
Meanwhile, the Pistons also heard their own rumors about their core. Blake Griffin rumors were shot down by the Pistons despite the 30-year-old having one of the worst seasons of his career as the team is three games out of the East’s eighth seed. Griffin averages 15.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists over the 18 games he played this year. He sat out the Lakers contest which was his fourth game missed with a left knee injury.
Detroit center Andre Drummond also said he wanted to finish his career with the Pistons although many speculate he might opt out of the final year of his contract to pursue free agency after this season. Drummond averages 17.5 points and 15.8 rebounds for the season.
What’s Next for The Lake Show?
Nonetheless, he Lakers are on another five game winning since losing four games accumulating with a loss to the Clippers on Christmas Day.
L.A.L. are still the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed with a three game lead over the two teams tied for the second seed, the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets. The Lakers will try to keep adding to that lead when they play next versus the New York Knicks on Jan. 7.
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