By Jordon Hall
Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Detroit Pistons. Can Magic Johnson figure out how to operate the floor against this rugged Detroit “Bad Boy” Piston defense led by Isaiah Thomas?
Sorry about that, I am just one for nostalgia.
The current day Detroit Pistons have probably the most athletic frontcourt in the NBA, but they are off to a rough start at 3-5 despite adding Josh Smith to their wing over the summer. Coming in to the game, the Pistons are ranked 29th in the league in three-point shooting at 27%. So for the Lakers, they need to clog the paint and force Detroit to beat them from distance. Defensive rebounding was key. And if Smith, Greg Monroe or Andre Drummond get those offensive rebounds, the Lakers would be in trouble.
Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill needed to step up, especially Gasol. With Kobe Bryant out, the Lakers need a finisher. A majority of their loses, like Friday nights game against the Grizzlies, came from a close game. Gasol needs to become that closer the Lakers desperate need, no not taking every shot, but making things happen.
So did the Lakers do this? Lets find out…
Laker fans who attended the game at Staples Center went home with free tacos thanks to the Lakers holding the visiting Detroit Pistons under a hundred with a 114-99 victory. This improves the Lakers to 5-7 overall and 4-3 at home.
The Lakers needed a game like this. Most of their wins have come against top tier teams but come up short against non-championship contending teams. The Lakers need to take as much advantage of their home games, especially with Bryant still out.
It wasn’t pretty all night though as the Lakers gave up 56 points during the first half with 44 of them coming from Detroit’s big men. Detroit shot 62% from the field. Another reason why the Lakers were getting beat was they committed 8 turnovers. Pistons were just having their way, with a lot of alley oops and one amazing off-the-backboard from Brandon Jennings to Drummond.
I know LakerNation loves to hate on coach Mike D’Antoni. But you have to give credit when credit is due, and tonight it was. Lakers outscored the Pistons in the second-half 64-43. They did a much better job on defense and their shots just kept falling for them. The Lakers also took better care of the ball which negated those fast-breaks the Pistons were feasting on in the first 24 minutes of play.
Led by Jordan Farmar, the Lakers turned it on in the 3rd quarter with a blistering 16-0 run that puts the team ahead for good. Nick Young was part of that fun as he is showing that he is a young stud scoring 7 points in the final three minutes, including an amazing back-to-back three pointers. Then Farmar finished up the 3rd quarter with a great buzzer beater to help swing the momentum back to the Lakers.
The 4th quarter saw the Lakers continue their solid, aggressive play while keeping the lead intact...finally.
You can tell that Young spends time talking to Kobe (trash talk as well) because he is showing moves of the “afro Kobe” era and it was working. Young ended up with 19 points on over 50% shooting.
Steve Blake is also showing that he can handle the load as starting point guard in the absence of Steve Nash once again. Tonight, Blake had 9 points but a more impressive 16 assists (2 short of his career high). Blake in general is becoming a great floor manager. On fast breaks, he passes up open shots and instead dribbles until he finds the right guy (Jodie Meeks all night) for three.
Meeks is without a doubt the most improved player so far this year for the Lakers. He went 4-for-7 on 3-point shots giving way to his 19 points for the night.
I've been saying since the Lakers signed him as a free agent this past summer, and I firmly believe that Wesley Johnson will become this generations Michael Cooper for the Lakers. The two have an identical game — defensive-minded and have a knack to hit that open three.
Hill was averaging 17 points the last three games and what does he do? Puts up a career high 24 points and just as impressive 17 rebounds. I believe one of the reasons why the Lakers struggled a lot last year was because Hill missed a ton of games. He is starting to prove that he can play with anyone. He stole the show going against such a solid frontcourt for the Pistons.
Gasol needed to step up. Besides Kobe, Gasol is my favorite Laker, but he has not been playing great as of late. He had a great game the other night against the Grizzlies but he needs to be more consistent. Gasol went 6-for-13 with a total of 12 points. He needs to be more aggressive and get to the foul line and be more efficient with the ball. I have all the faith Gasol will do so.
Player of the Game:
Without a shadow of a doubt Jordan Hill. Hill had career-highs in two categories with 24 points and 17 rebounds. Hill is proving that he should be starting along side Gasol at power forward. Time Warner Cable Lakers analyst James Worthy even gave him a great compliment during the game saying he show signs of Dennis Rodman in rebounding because he is one of the few guys that enjoys getting rebounds and fighting for one when he is on the floor.
Hope you enjoyed my first entry for The Purple and Gold Blog, because I know did. I think we can all agree, it was great ways for me to start since the Lakers picked up a big win tonight! Lets see if they can keep up this Friday night against the Golden State Warriors.
About the Writer
Jordon hails from Brick, New Jersey and has been a devoted Laker fan since 2001 when the Lakers nearly swept Allen Iverson (his 3rd grade friend's idol) and the Sixers 4-1 in the NBA Finals. Jordon is The Purple And Gold Blog's newest intern and staff writer.