The struggling Detroit Pistons battled the first place Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night, but came up short 106-99. Every time it felt like the Lakers were going to run away with the game, Detroit made a run.
The first quarter was a block and lob party for the Lakers: the Lake Show accumulated eight blocks and 10 or so successful thunderish lobs, but somehow Detroit trailed by just a point at the end of one.
After a ho-hum second quarter which Detroit lost by eight, Detroit outscored Los Angeles by 13 in the third. Svi Mykhailiuk, a former Lakers draft pick, was instrumental in the quarter, drilling three 3-pointers.
Bench scoring and free throw shooting was the key for keeping Detroit in the game. Detroit got 65 points from their bench and converted 30-of-35 free throws (the Lakers were 16-of-23). Derrick Rose scored 28, while Mykhailiuk and Galloway scored 14 and 13 respectively. Bruce Brown had his moments doing a bit of everything (bad and good) as well.
Detroit led 79-75 heading into the fourth quarter. The Lakers scored the first four points of the frame and Dwane Casey then quickly called timeout. The Lakers promptly came out of the timeout and scored another 12 consecutive points. Oh, damn. This Lakers team IS really good.
Finally, with over 5:30 already gone in the quarter, Detroit got their first scratch on a Galloway finger roll of sorts. Detroit didn’t stop there — they made a run of their own, eventually recapturing the lead 92-91. From then on it was a struggle to get quality looks and the Lakers leaned on LeBron, Anthony Davis and Adam Caruso for key plays. Dwight Howard, who is now a pretty good basketball player again, played huge down the stretch too.
Sekou Doumbouya fouled out late in the fourth, finishing with 11 points on 12 shots. Not great. However, you just have to love his aggressiveness going to the cup and his willingness to muck it up. He is an athlete with some elite basketball skills and as we’ve written a half a million times here already, he’s just 19 years old. He’s a lot further along than most 19-year-olds would be. The rook had many positive defensive sequences guarding LeBron. A good number of times he made LeBron work for his shots and buckets. Overall, it was a great night of education for the youngest player in the NBA. Sekou will get better quicker by playing against NBA talent. Yes, it’s finally happening.
20 blocks for the Lakers — though, it felt like even more than that. Davis swatted eight, JaVale McGee seven, and Howard five.
LeBron managed a triple-double, but Davis was most efficient with 24 points on 16 shots.
Andre Drummond was very good in spots, mostly on the boards and defensively. A 2-of-13 night from the field hurts, but he was going against one of the best defensive front lines in the league. Andre converted 8-of-9 from the foul line.
Detroit will finish up their six-game road trip against Cleveland on Tuesday.