Final Score: LA Lakers 98, Detroit 97
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) - Pau Gasol scored 23 points and grabbed 10
rebounds and Kobe Bryant added 18 points and five assists, as the Los Angeles
Lakers held on for a 98-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons Sunday.
Bryant's three-point play with just over one minute left helped the Lakers
pick up their second straight win and fifth victory in their last six tries,
despite four missed free throws in the final 16 seconds of the game and two
late-second missed opportunities from the Pistons.
Greg Monroe recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds and Will
Bynum posted 18 points and dished out 10 helpers for the Pistons, who lost
for the third time in their last four games.
L.A. led by as many as 18, 72-54, with eight minutes remaining in the third
quarter, but Detroit fought back. Monroe's hook shot brought the Pistons all
the way back within 78-72 as the quarter came to a close.
It looked like deja vu all over again, as the Lakers extended their lead
again, this time to 10 points with 8:36 remaining in the game. The home team
kept battling back, and Brandon Knight's monster slam dunk just two minutes
later made it 87-86 in favor of the visitors.
As the contest winded down under five minutes, Charlie Villanueva twice tied
the game -- the first on a 3-pointer with 4:36 left to play, and the second on
a tough lay-in, which made it 95-95 with 2:06 to play.
Two possessions later, Bryant made the Pistons pay with a three-point play
after he was fouled on a driving layup, and the visitors led 98-95 with just
over one minute left.
Detroit turned to Bynum, who made a quick basket to bring the Pistons within
one. Then things got interesting. Earl Clark missed two free throws to
potentially seal the game with 16 ticks left and Detroit was still alive.
Bynum got the ball back and drove to the lane for a difficult lay-in, but the
ball rattled in-and-out of the rim, thus allowing the Lakers to hold on for
"It's tough," Bynum said about the shot. "I work so hard and I thrive to be in
situations like that. To be in there and not deliver is kind of crushing
sometimes, especially when my teammates and coaching staff trust me to make
the right decisions. It wasn't my night."
Amazingly, the Pistons even had another last-second try, following two rare
missed free throws from Steve Nash, but the inbounds pass with 1.2 seconds
left was tipped away near the rim.
"These are playoff games for us and I think it feels like it and sometimes
weird stuff happens in the playoffs," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said.
"Obviously we have to do a better job of protecting leads and play like we
played when we get the leads."
After a competitive first quarter which ended with the visitors up 32-27,
Monroe's slam just 1 1/2 minutes into the second stanza gave Detroit a 35-34
edge. The Lakers answered with a quick, 13-4 flurry to take a 47-39 lead
midway through the quarter. Los Angeles took a 62-51 edge into halftime.
Gasol's presence was noticed, as he helped fill in for Dwight Howard, who
missed L.A.'s victory Friday over the Minnesota Timberwolves due to his
nagging shoulder injury. Gasol had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first
The Lakers are now 2-3 without Howard in the lineup after the All-Star center
missed Friday's game to receive platelet-rich plasma treatments in his right
shoulder ... The Lakers have won seven of the last eight meetings versus
Detroit ... The Pistons shot 44.6 percent, compared to the Lakers' 47.0
percent shooting effort ... Nash finished with 10 assists and 11 points and
Clark added 17 points and 10 boards.
02/03 17:10:17 ET
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