LeBron watches as Pistons dispatch Lakers, end losing streak
Detroit — Maybe there’s something to the home-cookin' that’s helping the Pistons during their recent spurt.
Although they had two blowout losses in their last two games, the Pistons continued on their home streak, winning their eighth straight at Little Caesars Arena, with a 111-97 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers — without LeBron James — on Friday night.
The win ended their streak of sub-80-point games at two and nudged the Pistons (35-33) back into sixth place in the East playoff race, just a percentage point ahead of the Brooklyn Nets and three games ahead of the Miami Heat for eighth place.
“I loved our compete level. Win, lose or draw, when we fight and scrap like that, good things usually happen,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We played the game the right way, good things happened and that was the difference.
“If we had that disposition, the fight and the energy level in those two games we got spanked, I don’t know if we would have won them, but the outcome wouldn’t have been as dire.”
Langston Galloway had 23 points off the bench, Reggie Jackson added 20 points, five rebounds and five assists and Andre Drummond 19 points and 23 rebounds.
The Pistons had a 46-40 lead at halftime but the Lakers (31-38) kept the pressure on. In the third quarter, Rajon Rondo (15 points) scored eight points, igniting a 12-5 run that pulled the margin to 60-56 at the 4:55 mark. Jackson responded with eight straight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to jump-start a 16-2 spurt to get the lead back to double digits.
Wayne Ellington (12 points) hit a 3-pointer and Galloway added three free throws, but Rondo hit another drive to make it a 77-60 lead entering the fourth.
JeVale McGee (20 points) and Alex Caruso (16 points) fueled the Lakers in the fourth quarter and Kyle Kuzma added 12 points, six rebounds and 10 assists, but the Pistons got a boost from Ish Smith and the reserve group to put it away.
Without James, along with injuries to Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, the Lakers didn’t have the firepower to give the Pistons a contest, as was the case in the first meeting in Los Angeles this season.
They brought a plucky second unit, with Caruso and Johnathan Williams (six points) that pushed the Pistons reserves and kept it close to the fourth quarter.
“They got two guys out for the season, resting their best player, playing some call-up guys who played last night and got here at four in the morning and they played harder than us,” said Blake Griffin, who had 15 points and nine assists. “Most of the game, we hit some shots and we got some stops but at this point of the season, you obviously take the wins.”
1. Reggie Jackson had an outstanding third quarter, with 10 of his 20 points, including eight straight, to fuel the run. Jackson was questionable to play because of his sprained right ankle, but moved well and had good range of motion when he was driving to the basket.
2. LeBron James drew applause when he walked into the arena a couple minutes into the first quarter. Donning a blue suit and glasses, James didn’t play because of “load management” and the move to lighten his playing time down the stretch of the season, as the Lakers are out of playoff pursuit in the Western Conference.
3. Pistons owner Tom Gores sat courtside and during his impromptu halftime media session reiterated his pride in the team for its recent stretch of games and the push toward the playoffs. He said he was proud of the front office and its moves to improve the roster ahead of the trade deadline.
4. Reggie Bullock made his first return to Little Caesars Arena since being dealt to the Lakers at the trade deadline. He didn’t have a happy return, with just four points on 2-of-7 shooting. He looked out-of-sorts in the Lakers offense, hitting just one 3-pointer and having to find his spots for better shot attempts.
5. The Pistons bench outplayed the Lakers reserves when it counted, led by Galloway’s sharpshooting, but the sluggish movement is becoming a concern. With a condensed schedule, they’ll have to generate more energy off the bench — such as Galloway, Ish Smith and Luke Kennard — or risk falling into bigger ruts.