On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers play on the same night as the LA Dodgers for the third time during the 2017 World Series. So far, the LA's basketball team is winless, while the Dodgers are 1-1. Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons would appear to be as good a night as any to go two-for-two on one of those days where yelling any succession of three-digit-numbers would work as a traffic report.
Downtown LA is going to be mayhem on Tuesday evening. Dodger Stadium's first pitch for a must-win Game 6 of the World Series is 5:20 p.m. Staples Center's start time for the Detroit Pistons versus the LA Lakers at 7:30 p.m.
NBCLA.com/sports has everything you need on the Dodgers' front, so this is the story of the 5-2 Detroit Pistons, with three wins in four road games and three wins on the bounce. These Pistons enter Staples Center with wins over the Golden State Warriors and the LA Clippers in their rear view mirrors. Beating the Lakers would complete their Pacific Division road trip with a perfect 3-0 record.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has Detroit playing winning basketball with balance. Four Pistons average scoring in double figures. Telling of the new style of the team, big man Andre Drummond sits at the bottom of that scoring list at 12.9 points per game. Avery Bradley's addition adds a two-way player and the third man behind the scoring leaders of Reggie Jackson and Tobias Harris.
In his second season on the Pistons, Harris leads the team in scoring, 20.9 points per game. The 25-year-old small forward scored in double figures in all seven of Detroit's games, and the three occasions where Harris hit over 25 points this season, the Pistons are 3-0. Harris is clearly a key threat, but Bradley proved to be the deciding factor on both ends of the win over Golden State.
Meanwhile, Jackson is a lethal scoring point guard sure to give the Lakers fits. Tuesday night at Staples Center is no easy task for the home team, which has four defeats in six games to start the season, but Ingram's defense on Harris should be worth watching perhaps even more closely than Ball trying to stop Jackson or getting outmuscled by Bradley.
"He just turned 20," Lakers coach Luke Walton said with a smirk about Ball at Lakers' practice on Monday, as a reminder that the Lakers' point guard has a great deal of development to undergo.
The Pistons will be a challenge for the Lakers' defense; only, the Lakers have been a decent defensive team thus far, ranking 11th overall in the NBA. Through six games, the Lakers are tied with the Clippers and San Antonio Spurs in defensive rating. The Lakers have been awful, terrible, disastrous and worse on defense for years, so seeing the club jump up to 11th in terms of defensive ranking is worthy of celebration—even if the season is only six games old for the purple and gold. Part of what made the Lakers so awful to watch in recent years was the inability to stop the opposition in any way, but that appears to be changing.
"I feel like guys are taking it a little more personally just because we were terrible in defense last year," sixth-man Jordan Clarkson gave his take on why the Lakers have improved on that end of the court.
Of course, the defensive improvements have Walton pleased, which he admitted at Monday's practice in El Segundo, after the coach gave the players a day off following a back-to-back.
"Defensive is what wins championships, and until we get good at that, that's the most important thing that we're going to focus on," Walton said.
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On the opposite end, though, the Lakers rank 29th in offensive rating, but Walton pointed to the new makeup of the team and the young age of his players to explain why the team is second from the bottom on the offensive end of the court. The coach, though, seems elated at the effort being put forth by his players and even commended his guys for coming out with energy following an off day on Sunday.
According to Clarkson, he ended up at Ball's 20th birthday party at a Dave & Busters on that rare Sunday off day. As Clarkson tells it, LaMelo Ball, Lonzo Ball's younger brother and top high school basketball prospect, was beating him up pretty bad to the tune of $200.
"Melo was actually whooping my ass in the little basketball game," Clarkson said, referring to the popular arcade game Pop-a-Shot. "He hit me for like $200."
Incidentally, "Melo" Ball was also at practice watching from above on Monday, which is a pretty good school day for the kid with dreams and ambitions of playing in the NBA like his older brother. Beating a professional basketball player at an arcade game involving basketballs and shooting following by watching professional basketball players practice behind closed doors is a pretty good couple days of home schooling, one would imagine.
By the time the media got into the facility, the news of the day was that Kyle Kuzma sitting out a bit of practice with a sore hip, but Walton attributed that more to the rookie's aggressive style of play. This didn't appear to be any major concern, and Kuzma was watching from the sidelines, smiling from time to time when the team was doing conditioning and concentration drills, so it would appear that the team's story checks out.
Walton also made sure to clarify that the loss in Utah was not Ball's fault, despite the 20-year-old claiming responsibility for the defeat. Both Walton and Clarkson said that they respected the accountability that Ball took for his mistakes, but the coach made it clear that putting the 15-point loss on a couple bad decisions from the rookie point guard would be incorrect.
"That's how I was brought up, so I'm not going to change," Ball explained that he had always shouldered defeats. "It's a team game. We all play for each other. So obviously, we win and lose as a team, but I like to take the blame when we lose."
Ball added, "That's just what my dad taught me. When I started at six (years old), he's coached me the same way my whole life."