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Howard, Lakers drill Pistons for first win of season

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers' fantastic foursome finally had its coming-out party.

It just arrived a few games late, and without a quarter of the star-power.

With Steve Nash reportedly sidelined for up to a month with a left leg injury, the other half of the Lakers' offseason haul took over. Center Dwight Howard scored 28 points on 12-of-14 shooting in Los Angeles' 108-79 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers, who lost their first three games of the season before Sunday's runaway win, jumped out to a 28-point halftime lead over Detroit (0-3).

"We needed a win," Los Angeles coach Mike Brown said. "Dropping three in a row, not winning in the preseason, it made it a little tough. What it does more than anything else, especially winning the way we did -- defending the way we did, first of all, but then playing offensively the way we did -- it gives us a little belief. Every win we get gives us a little more belief."

Howard connected on eight of nine field-goal attempts before halftime and finished with seven rebounds and three blocks. He led five Lakers in double figures, as a balanced effort helped dispose of the Pistons easily. Los Angeles jumped out to a 34-13 lead after the first quarter and never let Detroit back into the game.

"The energy level was high tonight," Howard said. "We started the shoot-around before the game with a lot of energy, and it carried into the game."

Metta World Peace added 18 points for the Lakers, and Kobe Bryant contributed 15.

The Lakers led 62-34 at the half behind 20 points from Howard, though he was far from the only contributor. World Peace chipped in 11 points in the first two quarters, and Bryant and Pau Gasol each added 10. The Lakers shot 62 percent (23-for-37) in the first half, improving on their season average of 49.8 percent.

"We didn't win in the preseason, haven't won in the regular season, but we did a good job of staying positive, sticking to what we needed to do," said point guard Steve Blake, who started in place of Nash and produced six points and six assists. "But it feels much better now."

It took a matchup with the youthful Pistons to right the Lakers' ship.

Jonas Jerebko led Detroit with 18 points, and Kyle Singler (11 points) and Will Bynum (10) added double figures off the bench. However, none of the Pistons' starters scored more than Tayshaun Prince's nine. Detroit's starting lineup connected on just 11 of 39 shot attempts (28.2 percent) and combined for just 27 points.

The Lakers held Detroit to 35 percent shooting from the field and forced 16 turnovers while winning the rebounding battle 46-33.

"We're a young team, and it showed today," Prince said. "But the young guys played well today, the second group. The first group just didn't have any rhythm to the game."

Detroit's backcourt tandem of Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight combined for 1-for-14 shooting. Bynum tried to pick up the slack, contributing nine first-half points.

Bryant, who played through a strained and bruised right foot, finished with seven rebounds and a game-high eight assists. Gasol wound up with 14 points and seven rebounds, and reserve center Jordan Hill added 11 points and seven boards for the Lakers.

NOTES: Nash sat out a second consecutive game because of a non-displaced fracture in his left leg, and the Los Angeles Times reported he could be out for four weeks. Nash was hurt Wednesday when he bumped knees with Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard in the second quarter of the Lakers' 116-106 loss. ... Detroit fell to 3-10 in Staples Center. ... Bryant, who set the team record in career steals Friday during a loss to the Clippers, added two more steals against Detroit.
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