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Will Kobe be Kobe?

This whole trip out west hasn't gone too well for the Pistons, and it's not going to get any easier tonight against the Lakers. Kobe Bryant is rounding into form, sophomore Andrew "Baby Shaq" Bynum is a potential match-up problem in the middle and X-factor super-sub Mo Evans is a terror off the bench. OK, I made that last part up. To the crib sheet:

Subplots: Kobe, the self-annointed female comic book villain, hasn't exactly been himself the first week of the season. Will he drop his first 40-point game of the year on Detroit? Or will we he give us a 15- or 17-point performance like he offered up to Seattle and Minnesota earlier this year? We'll see, but considering how guys like Michael Redd and Deron Williams have been able to break through our perimeter defense, I won't be surprised by anything.

Los Angeles: where Detroit recycles their extra point guards Hey, didn't you use to play for Detroit? No, not you, Mo, the other guy, the one with the funny name. Yeah, Smush Parker. What is it about L.A. giving so many of our bench guys their starting point guard job? The tradition started with Lindsey Hunter in 2002, Chucky Atkins in 2005, and Parker last year. (OK, it's not the best analogy -- Parker played just 11 games for the Pistons in 2005 -- but it's still a little odd...)

What happened here last year? The Pistons stunk, that's what.

Can Nazr please play longer than 20 minutes? Maybe. Flip Saunders, who's apparently compelled to let the opposition dictate the matchups, may not have a choice but to keep the big man on the floor, at least if the 7-foot, 280-pound Bynum is on his game. Bynum had a 20-point, 14-board performance against the T-Wolves earlier this week, but immediately followed it up with a two-point, five-board game against the Blazers. Inconsistency like that comes with the territory with 19-year-old kids. Of course, if Bynum is on his game, I could also see Saunders giving Dale "Tazr" Davis his first minutes of the year now that the ole' hamstring has healed up.

Speaking of Andrew Bynum, remember this from last year?

So, if Rip can't play... *gulp* Yeah, I know exactly what you're thinking: how am I going to watch 30+ minutes of Flip Murray without going insane. But here's what I'm thinking: playing alongside Chauncey Billups, Murray won't be bringing the ball up the court, so he simply won't have the chance to dribble for 20 seconds before heaving up a shot (or, worse yet, running up the court and heaving up a shot with 20 seconds left on the shot clock). At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

The game's on ESPN for all you out-of-towners. See you in the comments for pre-/in-/post-game talk.