Persistent Pistons see victory hopes swatted away by mighty Lakers

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Los Angeles — In sheer hyperbole, it was David versus Goliath, with the Lakers’ length at almost every position against the undersized Pistons.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the Lakers, who touted the best record in the league and the Pistons were struggling mightily, with eight losses in their last 10 games. The Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference and hadn’t lost all season to a team with a sub-.500 record.

BOX SCORE: Lakers 106, Pistons 99

They continued the streak, holding on through a furious flurry in the fourth quarter to top the Pistons, 106-99, on Sunday night at Staples Center. The Pistons (13-24) fell to 1-4 out west and finish their road trip at Cleveland on Tuesday night.

Detroit Pistons guard Derrick Rose, left, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard defends during the first half.

Goliath won this time, as the Lakers notched 20 blocked shots, the most by a team in a game since 2001. They dared the Pistons to drive in the paint and bludgeoned the shots when they did.

Derrick Rose had 28 points and five assists, Svi Mykhailiuk 14 points and Langston Galloway 13 points, five rebounds and four assists. Andre Drummond added 12 points and 18 rebounds and Sekou Doumbouya and Christian Wood 11 points each.

Despite the disparity, the Pistons showed fight throughout the game, overcoming a 13-point deficit and taking a lead, but they couldn’t hold the lead in the fourth, as the Lakers moved ahead to stay in the final minutes.

It was the most fight the Pistons have shown on the road trip and gave room for some optimism.

“That was a great thing about it; it's a step in the right direction, with hard play against the top team in the league. Everything has got to go right to the top team in the league,” coach Dwane Casey said. “The 20 blocks, we talked to our guys about kickouts and getting back out. We continued to go in there and those 20 blocks are almost like 15 turnovers and race to the basket.

“We learned from it. Again. I love the way our guys competed got after it played together on a back to back. So, I was proud of that because the only thing close is horseshoes and hand grenades. You know, there's no such thing as moral victories but I like the way our guys competed.”

James led the way with a triple-double with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists and Davis patrolled the middle, notching eight blocks to go along with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

The Lakers (29-7) trailed, 79-77, entering the fourth quarter but posted a 15-0 run, with a drive by James. Dwight Howard added two baskets and Alex Caruso (13 points) scored before a three-point play by Kyle Kuzma, for a 90-79 lead.

The Pistons responded with nine straight points, including a drive by Rose, a dunk by Doumbouya and a 3-pointer by Mykhailiuk, who was facing his former team for the first time since his trade to the Pistons at the deadline last season.

They extended the run to 13-1 with two free throws each from Doumbouya and Rose, taking a 92-91 advantage.

James and Davis answered, with 12 straight points — including a tough corner 3-pointer from Davis — which gave the Lakers a 101-97 cushion. He followed with another basket on the next trip to make it a six-point lead.

Rose got the Pistons’ final basket on a reverse and the Lakers put the game out of reach with four free throws in the final seconds.

“We played with urgency tonight and played as hard as we could. Certain plays, we wish we could take back but as far as the effort, we played as hard as we could,” Rose said. “It’s a reason why they’re the No. 1 team in the league with blocking shots. They have great length with Dwight, McGee and Davis back there. In this game, it’s something you rarely see with guys that athletic back there.”


►  Casey again managed Rose’s minutes well, with 6:40 in the first quarter, 4:17 in the second and 5:56 in the third. Trying to find spurts, where Rose can excel with a limit of about 28 minutes, can be tricky, but the Pistons need to have Rose on the floor during critical periods, including the start of the third, to make sure they don’t fall too far behind.

►  The Pistons did well on free throws, making their first 21 free throws before Drummond had the first miss, at 5:40 of the third quarter. They had another miss from  Wood and then a lane violation, which started the unraveling. Thon Maker missed two near the end of the period and Galloway missed one on a technical foul to open the fourth.

►  Casey got a technical foul in the process of calling a timeout in order to review a call. When Casey walked out on the court to call the timeout, he got the technical. Davis made the free throw and put the Lakers up six points. It’s an odd call among plenty of other odd calls on Sunday night.

►  Doumbouya fouled out at 2:48 of the fourth quarter on a touch foul on Davis. Doumbouya was tasked with guard James or Davis all game and held his own in staying in front of them, with good footwork and forcing them both to take more difficult shots.

►  The Lakers totaled 20 blocks, including eight by Davis, six by JeVale McGee and five by Dwight Howard. According to, it was just the ninth time in NBA history that a team registered 20 blocks in a game.

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard