Hill's carrer game lifts Lakers past Pistons

Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Where there's a will, there's a Jordan Hill.
The Los Angeles power forward had a career outing as the Lakers pounded the Detroit Pistons 114-99 before a sellout crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center on Sunday night.
Hill finished with career highs in points, 24, and rebounds, 17. He shot 11-for-16 as the Lakers (5-7) ended a two-game skid and handed the Pistons (3-6) their fifth setback in the past six games.
"That's his will. I know that he has a nose for the ball," said Lakers forward Wesley Johnson, who finished with 13 points. "When I see the ball hit the rim, I know what's going to happen. After a while, (opposing players) don't want to get run over."
Hill said his mission was to prevent the athletic Pistons from attacking the glass.
"Our plan was to keep them off the offensive rebounds as much as possible," said Hill, who had almost half of the Lakers' 38 rebounds and five of their eight offensive boards. "They did good, but we came out and did better. We needed this. We've been on a little losing streak and (we weren't) playing with a lot of energy lately. Tonight, we did."
Hill's previous career-best point total was 21 against the New Orleans Pelicans on Nov. 12, when he got his first start. Twice last season he grabbed 15 rebounds, his previous high on the boards.
"He's put together some nice games," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He just has to keep it right there, and he can. He's just good right now."
Guard Jodie Meeks and reserve forward Nick Young each had 19 points for the Lakers. Meeks hit four of Los Angeles' 10 3-pointers. Steve Blake had 16 assists, four steals and nine points.
Lakers center Pau Gasol finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
Point guard Brandon Jennings led Detroit with 23 points and 14 assists. Forward Josh Smith finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. Center Greg Monroe scored 17 points and hauled down seven rebounds, while forward Andre Drummond had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Reserve guard Rodney Stuckey had 16 points.
The Lakers shot 52.2 percent (47 of 90) from the floor overall, compared to 48.3 percent (42 of 87) by the Pistons.
"In the second half, we were getting to our spots, but we missed a few shots that we made in the first half," said Monroe, who was 8 of 14 from the field. "They made a lot more shots in the second half. We just missed some open shots."
Los Angeles closed out the third quarter on a 10-0 run for a 79-71 lead. Two 3-pointers by Young and buckets by Gasol and guard Jordan Farmar in the final two minutes sparked the surge as Los Angeles outscored Detroit 29-15 in the third.
The Lakers continued their tear in the fourth, building an 89-76 lead after a tip-in by Hill with about eight minutes remaining. Detroit couldn't cut into the double-digit deficit.
"They had missed some shots early on and then they made one, then they made two and that steamrolled into them making more shots," Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks said. "They got out in transition and had shooters spreading the floor. We just have to get better. Our inside play and offense was pretty good, but we just have to get better closing off the paint and being able to defend the 3-point shooters."
The Pistons led 56-50 at the half by shooting 62.5 percent (25 of 40) compared to 43.5 percent (20 of 46) by the Lakers.
NOTES: Speculation is running rampant about when Lakers SG Kobe Bryant will return. Bryant practiced for the first time Saturday since tearing an Achilles tendon seven months ago, and he participated in shooting drills during the Lakers' Sunday morning shootaround. However, the Lakers continue to maintain there is no timetable for his return. Still, his teammates are impressed with his progress. "He looked real good," PF Jordan Hill said of Bryant's practice session. "He was going real hard. I thought he was going to play hard, but he was really pushing it. I know he's not ready yet, but he's coming along. He should be ready pretty soon." ... Lakers PG Steve Blake had half of his 16 assists in the first quarter. ... Pistons PG Chauncey Billups did not play. He remains day-to-day with knee tendinitis. ... The Lakers get a four-day break before hosting the Golden State Warriors on Friday night. ... Detroit returns home to play the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

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