Coming off of an ugly loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Detroit Pistons look to notch their first victory of the young season. Normally, the last place you would expect the Pistons to end a losing streak would be the unfriendly confines of the Staples Center. But this Los Angeles Lakers team is 0-fer and looks all out of sorts, and has a coach whose seat is getting awfully warm for it only being three games into the season.
Game Tips at 9:30 p.m.
Detroit Pistons: 0 - 2 (0 - 1 away)
Los Angeles Lakers: 0 - 3 (0 - 2 home)
If you're disappointed in the start of the Pistons, imagine how Lakers fans must feel. With the arrivals of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, Los Angeles was supposed to once again establish themselves as the elite team of the Western Conference. Unfortunately, the offensive has been disjointed, the defense has been dreadful and the team's lack of depth has been exposed thanks to injuries to Nash and Earl Clark and might also be without Jordan Hill.
The team is not only 0-3 on the season but they were the only team in the NBA that went winless in the preseason. The new-look Lakers don't even have a pretend victory to hang their hats on.
Head coach Mike Brown, who Pistons fans should be familiar with for his several underwhelming seasons coaching the LeBrons in Cleveland, has installed the Princeton offense but the team has yet to gel within the system. Now, with Nash out it is putting a lot of pressure on Kobe Bryant as the only reliable perimeter shooter on the team. A role he relishes and one the Pistons should take advantage of.
The Pistons lost 92-89 to a bad Suns team Friday night, with the game not being nearly as close as the final score would make it seem. Of course, when Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell are your team's most consistent performers, your team is probably struggling.
That is especially true of Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey. Monroe has looked tentative on offense, perhaps owning to the larger distributing and playmaking role he has been asked to play. Accepting the ball at the top of the key, he has not made decisive moves toward the basket and is settling for far too many jump shots.
He looks like James Harden, however, compared to the struggles of Rodney Stuckey. The say, "Hey!" kid is 1-for-17 from the floor this season, good for a robust 5.90 shooting percentage. The team says he has been dealing with migraines lately and that could be a great contributor to his struggles. If Stuckey is still dealing with migraines they should sit him tonight. So far this season he has done nothing but hurt the team.
The team has shown faith in the defense and shooting of Kim English off the bench, and he could be part of a three-guard rotation with Brandon Knight and Will Bynum, and it would allow Khris Middleton the chance to see the floor for the first time in his young NBA career.
Keys to the Game
Take advantage of turnovers -- The Lakers are averaging nearly 20 turnovers per game and giving up 10 steals per game. The Pistons can't be passive. They need to pressure the Lakers and not let them get into a groove. The Pistons have players that can force turnovers both on the perimeter and in the paint. Conversely, the veteran Lakers don't force many turnovers so the Pistons need to ensure they don't make many unforced errors.
Run, run, run -- Brandon Knight still struggles to do point guard things, the Lakers turn the ball over plenty and the Pistons have the younger, more athletic team. That means the Pistons need to run in transition and look for easy scoring opportunities.
Win the guard matchups -- With Nash hurt, the Lakers were forced to play Steve Blake 37 minutes against the Clippers. The only guard to come off the bench was 2011 second-round pick Darius Morris. Bryant played a game-high 42 minutes and took 23 shots to score 40 points. The Pistons want Bryant taking at least 23 shots but end up with only 25-30 points. Bryant has proven throughout his career, especially when his team is struggling, that even if he is missing he'll still shoot the ball. If Bryant turns in an inefficient outing the Pistons will win the guard matchup and also probably get the win.
Questions of the Game
More likely -- Andre Drummond with a highlight reel dunk on Dwight Howard or a highlight reel block on Dwight Howard?