The Pistons made the Lakers look like the worst team they can be last night. Even in a one-point loss, L.A. showed how easily it can be beat.
Kobe Bryant got his 39, but it took him 25 shots and 11 turnovers (an NBA season-high) to do so. It was his teammates that failed to come through when he struggled. Derek Fisher had 15 and Ronny Turiaf had 12, but those two players aren't exactly creating their own shots. Where was Lamar Odom and Vlad Radmanovic? Or how about Kwame Brown doing something productive in the absence of Andrew Bynum?
It really is quite sad to watch Lamar Odom become a shell of his former self these days. He's rebounding at a solid 9.5/gm, but he only scores 13/gm. That's unacceptable for someone with his talent. Odom can be scoring 20/gm easily. Unfortunately, he has never been able to do so. 17 has been his highwater mark, once with the Clips and once with the Heat. He can't even blame this on the triangle offense or playing with Kobe. He only has to look at himself for that. This is someone who is 6'10" and never shot over 47%!
Enough of that, how about the Pistons' play? Save for a miserable third quarter, Detroit played well against one of the top teams in the West. Their defense shut down L.A.'s supporting cast and came through big when it mattered most. With four seconds left, L.A. had a chance to grab the lead, but Detroit did what his best in these moments. It took the ball out of Kobe's hands quickly, forcing the Lakers to change their plans without warning. Odom had to throw up an awkward-looking three and it found nothing but air.
The true theme for the Pistons should really be its bench, though. With McDyess and Wallace shooting poorly, the Pistons looked for more offense out of its backups. Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo were glad to help out. Both had 10 points on 7-9 shooting and only 2 turnovers. For Afflalo, this is nothing new. But Stuckey had been in a slump of late. After going 5 games and only totaling 4 points, he has now put in 17 in his last two. The Pistons need this Stuckey, the one that drive and dish and create opportunities at the stripe. Basically, we need Stuckey to show how much we don't need whatever is left of Lindsey Hunter in the playoffs.
Amir Johnson also continued his recent surge, grabbing nine rebounds in 13 minutes. Perhaps Johnson's presence is affecting Maxiell more than I thought. Baby Max only had one point on 0-4 shooting. Again, I hope he's just hitting a wall and he can bounce back after the All-Star break.
Photo credit: AP Duane Burleson