It’s only cheating if you get caught, that’s the way the phrase goes. But Pau Gasol did foul Andre Drummond on the final play that could have won the Detroit Pistons the game, only referees wouldn’t call a foul against the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant, who need every break they can get as they try to fight their way into the postseason.
Not a lot of things went right for the Lakers in this one. Bryant was in a mix of his passing Kobe to shooting Kobe mode, finishing with 18 points and 5 assists, including 8-20 from the field but also a big basket late in the game to nearly seal the deal for the Lakers, on pure determination while driving to the basket against the soft Pistons defense.
Steve Nash, one of the greatest free throw shooters in NBA history, with 90.4% accuracy for his career, missed two from the line with 2.7 seconds left. The Piston got to inbound the ball with 1.2 seconds left, and Kyle Singler threw it up for Drummond on the tip in. Gasol got a piece of Drummond and the ball, as it rocketed on the rim and bounced away. Lakers managed to hang on for the win, 98-97, winning for the fifth time in six games and twice in a row on the road for the first time since December.
Metta World Peace had his moment in the Palace, punching Brandon Knight and only getting a flagrant call instead of the ejection. That really fired up the fans, who have targeted World Peace since his days as Artest, and his main role in the famous brawl, although tend to forget it happened because of Ben Wallace and a fan who hit World Peace with a drink.
Every game is like a playoff game for us right now. And some crazy things happen in playoff games. It wasn’t the best of games from the Lakers in the last couple of weeks, but it was enough. The defense makes enough play, and there’s not the usual selfishness on offense to mess things up. Steve Nash did a good job for most of the game, dishing 10 assists and scoring 11 points, but Pau Gasol in the paint looks like the man who has earned the most from Dwight Howard being sidelines, and from the overall change in style, scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds; it’s the first time this season in which Gasol has scored 20 or more points on consecutive nights.
The road gets tougher from here for the Lakers – three teams out of the next four road games have a winning record – Brooklyn, Boston and the Miami Heat to finish off the road trip. Not having Dwight Howard is OK against weak teams like the Pistons and Timberwolves, but there’s only so much Gasol and Clark can do on defense while the opposition isn’t that good. There’s only so much Kobe Bryant can build up inside of him before he stops passing at all and starts posting 25 field goal attempts per game, unless Dwight Howard makes a comeback with a healthy shoulder pretty soon.