The streaking Pistons, who defeated the Lakers in five games in last season’s league finals, beat them 111-90 Friday night.
The victory, the Pistons’ sixth straight and 11th in 12 games, was their second lopsided win over the Lakers in two weeks. They beat them by 22 points at Detroit on Feb. 10.
“We played great. We shared the ball, we took care of the ball,” Detroit coach Larry Brown said. “We defended well, got out on the break. It was a great team effort.”
Lakers interim coach Frank Hamblen saw essentially the reverse from his team.
“We were very poor defensively the whole game. Pick-and-roll, they were walking in and getting layups,” Hamblen said. “We changed at halftime and it wasn’t any better.
“Offensively, our guys were confused.”
Kobe Bryant had 20 points and 11 assists for the Lakers, who came in riding a season-high three-game win streak. With Detroit defenders tight on him the entire game, Bryant got off just 12 shots from the floor, making six.
He thought the Pistons looked all too familiar.
“They are clicking right now. They are playing like the Detroit Pistons of last year,” Bryant said. “It seems like they have started to rev up their engines.”
When Detroit opened the lead to 100-79 with 5:15 remaining, many in the sellout crowd of 18,997 booed and headed for the exits.
Detroit shot out to an 18-8 lead in the first 6:20, was up 28-19 at the end of the opening quarter and went ahead 35-19 on Antonio McDyess’s 3-pointer 48 seconds into the second period.
The Pistons led by double digits the rest of the way.
The meeting was the first between the teams in Los Angeles since last June 8, when Bryant’s 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left forced overtime in Game 2 of the finals. The Lakers went on to win the game 99-91, but that was their only victory in the finals.
Rasheed Wallace, showing how he’s harnessed the temper that led to an NBA-record 41 technical fouls in the 2000-01 season, was frustrated but didn’t blow up when he was called for reaching in on Bryant in the first quarter.
Wallace, who appeared to cleanly slap the ball away, avoided trouble by doing an exaggerated trot—mouth wide open in disbelief—down the court and away from the referees. By the time Wallace turned and came back, he looked completely calm.
Brown was surprised at the Lakers’ offseason breakup. “They won three championships and went to the finals four out of five years, and I thought they were one of the great teams. You hate to see anything like that change, and they were relatively young,” Brown said. “And I hate to see Phil not in the league after what he accomplished. But that’s the nature of our business.” … Detroit G Carlos Delfino, coming back from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, may be ready to play at Golden State on Sunday. “He said he needed four good practices, so we’ll see about Sunday,” Brown said.