Pistons at Lakers preview
Kobe Byrant is having another MVP-type season, averaging 30.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals. He was held to 18 points in the loss to Houston and left the game late in the fourth quarter with a strained groin.
Center Andrew Bynum is healthy and averaging 20.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game. Bynum has the potential to be an elite NBA center, but must stay healthy to do so.
The Ron Artest signing has worked out well for the Lakers so far. Artest is a tough defender and is averaging 12.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists.
Lamar Odom has started in place of the injured Pau Gasol, who has yet to play this season. Odom is averaging 10.1 points and playing over 35 minutes a game with Gasol out. It is still unclear when Gasol will return, but he is not expected to play Tuesday.
The 35-year-old Derek Fisher remains the Lakers starting point guard and is a solid role player.
Key matchup — Pistons’ Ben Gordon vs. Lakers’ Kobe Bryant: Both players are coming off season-low outputs. Gordon was just 1-for-16 from the field and had five points in a loss to Dallas Sunday. Gordon was feeling a little under the weather, but made no excuses. He had a chance to tie the game, but missed a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left. The Pistons will need more out of Gordon to have a chance to beat the Lakers.
Bryant scored just 18 points against Houston, which is not a bad game for most, but bad for Bryant considering he is averaging more than 30 a game. Bryant’s groin injury doesn’t appear to be serious and he should be ready to go for Tuesday. The Pistons Rodney Stuckey will likely get the defensive assignment on Bryant and will have to try to limit his good looks.
The skinny — The Pistons are in the midst of a brutal schedule right now. Detroit will be playing its third game in four days on Tuesday after playing at Washington on Saturday and at home against Dallas on Sunday, and play at Portland on Wednesday. The Pistons follow that up with road games at Utah on Saturday and at Phoenix on Sunday.
“Whoever did that schedule, man. That’s brutal right? All playoff teams,” said Stuckey, who is from Seattle. “It’s going to be a challenge for us. We’ll see what happens. … It’s going to be fun though. I get to go back home and see some family too as well. We’ll be good.”
The Lakers won’t care about the Pistons’ schedule though and will be hungry for a win after losing two straight. Detroit will have to weather the storm early against L.A. and try to keep things close.
Ben Wallace has been playing great defense and will have his hands full with Andrew Bynum. Containing the Lakers big man will be key. As will the matchup between Charlie Villanueva and Odom. Villanueva had a double-double against Dallas, but was 6 for 16 form the field. The Pistons need Villanueva to shoot a better percentage against the Lakers.
Backup point guard Will Bynum has averaged 21 points in the Pistons last three games and Detroit will need his spark off the bench on this West Coast swing with Richard Hamilton (ankle) and Tayshaun Prince (back) not expected back. Hamilton and Prince did make the trip with the team according to an official with the team, but their playing status has not changed.
Prediction: Lakers 103, Pistons 93; Pemberton's record 5-5