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Lakers 98, Pistons 97

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Pau Gasol, starting once again in place on injured All-Star Dwight Howard, had 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons, 98-97, at The Palace on Sunday.

Kobe Bryant had 18 points and five assists and Earl Clark added 17 points for the Lakers (22-26), who squandered an 18-point, second-half lead.

Bryant passed Hakeem Olajuwon for seventh place on the all-time field goals list and has 10,757 for his career.

Gasol had 22 points and 12 rebounds against Minnesota on Friday when the Lakers snapped their eight-game road losing streak. Howard missed the game despite receiving platelet-rich plasma treatment this weekend on his ailing right shoulder.

Greg Monroe led the Pistons (18-30) with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Will Bynum added 18 points and 10 assists. Bynum missed a potential go-ahead layup in the closing seconds.

The Pistons cut the Lakers' advantage to 87-86 with 6:33 left when Brandon Knight dunked after Andre Drummond's steal.

Charlie Villanueva's 3-pointer tied, 91-91, two minutes later. Baskets by Gasol and Steve Nash put the Lakers back on top, but Drummond's dunk and Villanueva putback evened the score again.

Bryant responded with a three-point play with 1:09 remaining to give the Lakers a 98-95 edge.

Bynum's layup cut it to one and when Earl Clark missed two free throws, the Pistons had the ball back with 15.3 seconds remaining, but Bynum's running bank attempt spun off the rim.

Nash then missed two free throws, giving Detroit one last chance. Kyle Singler tried a inbounds lob to Drummond, but the shot bounced off the side of the rim and time expired.

Gasol and Clark each scored 15 points as the Lakers took a 62-51 halftime lead. Both scored in the final minute of the half, as Gasol converted a fast-break dunk and Clark threw down an inbounds lob from Bryant as the buzzer sounded.

The Lakers carried that momentum into the third quarter, starting the half on a 10-3 run to make it 72-54. Then, they got lax on defense and allowed the Pistons to climb back into the game.

Detroit finished the quarter on an 18-6 run, including six dunks or layups, to pull within to 78-72.

Metta World Peace of the Lakers created some tension late in the half with a flagrant foul against Brandon Knight. They got tangled up under the basket and World Peace wrapped his arm around the back of Knight's neck.

World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, precipitated the infamous 2004 Palace brawl by running into the stands and attacking a fan.

NOTES: The Lakers are 2-1 on their seven-game trip. They don't play another home game until Feb. 12. ... Los Angeles have seven of their last eight against the Pistons. .... Kobe Bryant was averaging 23.4 points in 29 career games against Detroit. ... Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni hopes Dwight Howard, who has a torn labrum, can play sometime this week. "The pain is not going to go away," D'Antoni said. "It's a little bit of a tear and if it gets totally bad, we'll have to do something (surgically). But the way it is right now, he'll just have to deal with it." ... Pistons coach Lawrence Frank traded texts with Bill Parcells on Saturday night after Parcells was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Frank has known Parcells since he was a team manager at Indiana under coach Bob Knight, another close friend of Parcells. "I thought it was a year overdue, but I know how honored he is to be part of such an esteemed group," Frank said. "He's one of the all-time great coaches." ... Point guard Jose Calderon, acquired by Detroit from the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, was ineligible to play because of visa issues. The Pistons hope the situation is resolved before they play at the New York Knicks on Monday night.
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