Tonight marks Kobe Bryant's last game at The Palace of Auburn Hills. He's had some highlights and lowlights when battling the Detroit Pistons on their home floor, including having to watch the Pistons lift the Larry O'Brien trophy back in 2004, when the Pistons completed the "historic" five-game sweep against his heavily favored LA Lakers. Kobe will (in all likelihood) be loudly cheered when his name is called during the player introductions, and there will be plenty of Detroit natives rocking Kobe jerseys scattered throughout the crowd. That is perfectly fine, he's an all-time great player and deserves a warm send off into the pastures of NBA retirement. And although the young Pistons may be in awe that this is their last chance to play against one of the NBA greats, they should remain focused on the task at hand, of winning their fourth straight game against a frankly awful LA Lakers.
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills
When: Sunday, December 6, 2015 at 6:00 PM EST
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, 105.1 FM
Unlike the Philadelphia 76ers, who boast the league's worst record, the LA Lakers (who boast the league's second-worst record) actually have NBA talent on their team. This team includes last year's Sixth Man of the Year in Lou Williams, two highly touted lottery picks in Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell, NBA vets like Brandon Bass and Roy Hibbert, AND a generational superstar named Kobe Bryant. Yet they are currently ranked at or near the bottom of most major NBA team statistics, including 25th in PPG, 27th APG, 26th OPPG and dead last in team FG% (shooting 40.8%). It's no secret that Kobe Bryant is not helping their current situation, as he averages over 18 shots/game, and is hitting on 22% from three and 30.5% overall. The Lakers are sitting with a record of 3-16, with 1/3 of their wins coming against the Detroit Pistons, who absolutely laid an egg when the two teams faced off earlier in the season at The Staples Center.
On the flip side the Pistons are currently riding a hot streak with a favorable December schedule, having won their last three games and doing so with their two best players looking like legitimate All-Star starters. During the win streak, Reggie Jackson has averaged 29.33 PPG, 9.66 APG all while shooting 59% from the floor. But even better than his gaudy stats, has been his quality of play, especially late in games when the Pistons are in need of a clutch basket or timely assist to ensure a team victory. Andre Drummond has continued to look like the force of nature we've come accustomed to seeing this season, so no need to focus too much on his jaw dropping 18.5 PPG and 17.0 RBG.
What is important to note, is that the Pistons are 8-0 this season when scoring 100+ points, and have reached that mark in each of their games during the current win streak. The Lakers opponents averages 105.4 PPG, so if averages hold up, the Pistons should find a way to extend their current win streak.
Players to watch
Detroit Pistons: Marcus Morris
Marcus Morris has been the unsung hero of this Pistons starting lineup, tasked with the challenge of putting the ball in the hoop when he plays with the secondary lineup consisting of Steve Blake, Stanley Johnson, Anthony Tolliver and Aaron Baynes. During the current win-streak, Morris has averaged 19.66 PPG, and has found a way to get to the free-throw line, when the Pistons offense is sputtering. This has been huge for the Pistons as, they've been able hold an advantage while the other starters get their much needed rest.
Los Angeles Lakers: Jordan Clarkson
Jordan Clarkson was instrumental in the Lakers first game against the Pistons back in November. He scored 17 points, while shooting 50% from the floor. Clarkson has been the Lakers most reliable player, seeing as Russell and Randle are going through some growing pains, and Kobe Bryant has shot the ball at an ungodly rate. You won't expect to see a huge game out of Roy Hibbert, so look for Clarkson to be the most efficient player on the court.
Last time we met
Sunday, November 15, 2015 Lakers 97, Pistons 85
This was the Pistons ugliest loss of their four game losing streak during the West Coast road trip. Our best player was Spencer Dinwidde, enough said.
Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond
Lakers: D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Kobe Bryant, Julius Randle, Roy Hibbert
Pistons: Jodie Meeks, Brandon Jennings
Will the Pistons continue their win streak? Guess Kobe's shooting percentage in the comments.