On Monday night, the Los Angeles Lakers seemingly ran out of gas as the Detroit Pistons motored past the weary visitors, 112-106, in the first ever meeting between two of the NBA's most storied franchises at the brand new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
Short-handed and at the end of a four-game road trip, the Lakers moved the ball well in the first half and tabbed 20 assists on 22 made field goals for a two-point lead at the intermission. The exhaustion of a long season, long minutes and a short rotation were on display early on, though, as the Lakers gave up a 7-0 run to the Pistons on their way into the locker room break.
Lonzo Ball had a particularly positive showed and flirted with a triple-double for the second game in a row. Ball fell two rebounds short of his third career triple-double in Memphis on Saturday, and the same could be said when the former UCLA Bruin finished with 15 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and two steals on Monday night in Michigan.
After only hitting eight of 54 (14.8 percent) three-point attempts in the previous eight games, Ball seemed to abandon the long shot and work on scoring from inside the three-point arc. The Chino Hills native made his first six field goals and even converted his only long range attempt on the day for a highly efficient 7/8 from the field.
Andre Drummond put up typically monstrous numbers for Detoit with 15 points and 18 rebounds. The center even managed to hit five of six foul shots on the day and made the Lakers pay when they opted to intentionally foul the Pistons' big man in a desperate tactic late in the game.
All five of the Lakers' starters scored in double figures, but without Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Isaiah Thomas available to play, LA's bench could not find a single player to score in double figures. Even with Channing Frye back available and playing, Detroit's bench outscored the Lakers' backups 42-21 on the day.
Monday was also a homecoming day for Kyle Kuzma, who grew up in Flint, Michigan, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who played the first four years of his career for the Pistons. Kuzma finished the night with 20 points and 11 rebounds on 8/15 shooting from the field, while Caldwell-Pope 13 points, five rebounds and an injury scare in his return to the city that drafted him.
Caldwell-Pope momentarily left the game following an awkward fall, but the shooting guard returned to the court later in the game.
Along with Kuzma, Brook Lopez and Julius Randle continued to prop up the Lakers from the front court. Lopez had a brilliant passing game and set a new career-high with nine assists, added to his 14 points. Randle led all scorers with 23 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double in the past 10 games.
Former LA Clipper Blake Griffin struggled with foul trouble and eventually fouled out with 15 points, five rebounds and three assists in only 24 minutes on the court. Reggie Jackson led the Pistons with 20 points on the night.
Now 32-41, the Lakers return to LA for a three-game home stand starting with Dallas on Wednesday night. In total, the Lakers will play eight of their remaining nine games at STAPLES Center with the season finale serving as a road game against the LA Clippers.