On Sunday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers (1-8) welcome the Detroit Pistons (5-4) to Staples Center for a 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time tip-off.
The Lakers have not started the season well, which is documented with a 1-8 record, but this team is not mired in failure and downtrodden depression. The start may be slower than expected, but the coaches and players all see progress on a daily and game-by-game basis. The fans seem to see it too, as viewing progress with young kids like D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. has provided the Lakers with a pass for a dreadful start to the season.
On Sunday, LA hopes to get its first home win, but Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons will not make it easy. The Lakers have struggled to rebound the ball and protect the defensive glass consistently this season, and Detroit's Drummond is the leading rebounder in the NBA.
Drummond averaging 19.2 rebounds per game, and already this season, the 22-year-old has put up games where he finished with 20 rebounds, 27 rebounds and 29 rebounds. This 6-foot 11-inch kid is a monster on the glass, and the Lakers need to pay special attention to rebounding on Sunday night.
Detroit, however, rides into Staples Center on a three-game losing streak. On its sixth stop on an elongated road trip, Sunday at Staples Center is the tail end of a back-to-back for Detroit, which lost to the LA Clippers on Saturday.
The Lakers take off to Phoenix on Sunday night after the game against Detroit, as they launch into a home and away back-to-back. On Sunday morning, Lakers coach Byron Scott said that Kobe Bryant would play on Sunday night, and the plan involved traveling to Phoenix and trying to play.
"The back-to-backs are something he wanted to do, " Scott said slightly nervously. "I don't know how that's going to go, depending on how we do tonight...and obviously how he feels tomorrow. "
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"It might even go up to the game time," Scott said about the decision to play Bryant on the back-end of back-to-backs.
The Lakers' coach said he would play Bryant about three to four minutes less on the back-end if everything proceeded as planned, so that would put Bryant in the "high 20s" in terms of minutes in Phoenix. The coach also pointed to the schedule as being favorable for experimentation, as the Lakers do not play their next game until Friday, which would allow Bryant three days to recover.
When asked, Scott said that Bryant had not made mention of any back pain in the most recent conversations, so the issue that recently held the 37-year-old out of two games had seemingly subsided.