Hot Lakers melt all in their path in win over Detroit

By Mike Bresnahan


Los Angeles Times


December 20, 2009


If record-setting snowstorms and a bad night’s sleep couldn’t stop the Lakers, the Detroit Pistons really had no shot.


Kobe Bryant had 28 points, Andrew Bynum had his most productive game in weeks, and the Lakers beat the Pistons, 93-81, Sunday at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich.


It was the Lakers’ third victory in a 24-hour period, assuming they get credit for beating the elements in a quick escape from a New Jersey snowstorm Saturday night.


The Lakers arrived Sunday in Detroit at 3:08 a.m., and got to their hotel in the suburbs an hour later. Tip-off came 14 hours after that, not that the Lakers seemed bothered.


They have now won four consecutive games, all on the road, and improved to 22-4.


Bynum broke out of a weeks-long slump that, in his last two games, featured almost twice as many fouls (11) as rebounds (six).


He had 16 points, 12 by halftime, and made seven of eight shots. He had seven rebounds and three blocked shots.


In another subplot, there were no fireworks between Ron Artest and Ben Wallace, despite Artest’s saying recently that he would like to fight the Pistons center. Pistons fans reacted Sunday by booing Artest numerous times.


Artest answered with a well-rounded game: 14 points, nine assists and six steals.


“It’s fun being in L.A. It’s fun having a chance to win,” Artest told reporters in Detroit. “I’m playing with Kobe. I’m playing with Lamar Odom, who I grew up with. All I’m doing is playing basketball.”


The Lakers were short on sleep, but the Pistons were short on players, forced to go on without Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Gordon because of various injuries.


The Pistons’ starting five Sunday consisted of Chucky Atkins, Rodney Stuckey, Ben Wallace, Jonas Jerebko and Jason Maxiell. Combined average: 42.6 points a game.


It meant a lot of Stuckey (16 points) and a little of Kwame Brown (seven points) off the bench.


Jackson again went to the reserves early, putting Sasha Vujacic into the game in the first quarter. He also had to yank them late, reinserting Bryant, Artest and Pau Gasol when the Lakers’ lead dropped to 15 midway through the fourth after being 21 when it began.


“The way we ended the game, we didn’t really like it,” said reserve forward Lamar Odom. “I hate that. We were up 20 and we have to have Kobe come back into the game.”


The Lakers’ lead got as low as eight when Jerebko made a 12-footer with 1:45 to play, but Bryant answered with a bank shot and Gasol scored on a layup to reestablish a 12-point advantage. Game over, traveling odyssey all but complete.


The Lakers didn’t look too tired in the first half, jumping out to a 56-38 lead, Bryant taking charge with 14 points and three steals.


Later, Bryant stole the ball from Will Bynum and lobbed a long lead pass to Odom for a dunk at the other end, giving the Lakers an 81-60 lead with 55.9 seconds left in the third quarter.


The Lakers won’t practice today; they play at home Tuesday against Oklahoma City. Then, of course, comes a Christmas Day game against Cleveland, also at Staples Center.


The Lakers survived this trip, though, and that definitely counts for something.