LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers finally resembled the team many expected they would be as they blasted the Detroit Pistons 108-79 to end their early-season slide last night at the Staples Centre.
The Lakers had begun the new season 0-3 for the first time since 1978, a shocking development for a team which acquired All Stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the off-season.
On Sunday, however, they shook off the rust against the Pistons as Howard scored a game-high 28 points, Metta World Peace added 18 and Los Angeles quickly dominated by grabbing a 21-point lead after the first quarter.
The chemistry problems that had plagued the Lakers, who include Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, in previous games was not an issue as they tallied 27 assists. Bryant had eight assists to go along with 15 points and seven rebounds. After scoring 40 in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, Bryant played the role of facilitator.
The Lakers were again without Nash, who will miss at least a week with a left leg fracture. Jonas Jerebko led Detroit with 18 points off the bench but they fell to 0-3 on the season. The Pistons shot just 35 per cent and trailed by as much as 36 in the third quarter. Los Angeles, on the other hand, seemed to be hitting on all cylinders and kept everyone involved. Gasol added 14 points and Jordan Hill came off the bench to add 11 and seven rebounds.
In Oklahoma, the Atlanta Hawks beat the Thunder 104-95. The Hawks got 23 points and 12 rebounds from centre Al Horford. Oklahoma City sixth man Kevin Martin led the Thunder with 28 points on 8-for-11 shooting, including 6-for-8 on 3-pointers. The Hawks were short- handed having left forward Josh Smith back in Atlanta with a sprained ankle but they still outrebounded OKC, especially on the offensive glass, did not let the Thunder get away in transition and forced 21 turnovers.
Lou Williams came off the bench to pump in 19 points for Atlanta and Jeff Teague added 16. While Martin was having his biggest game as a member of the Thunder, OKC’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were hot and cold. Durant just missed
his first triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists but he also turned the ball over six times. Westbrook scored 14 points and dished out nine assists but was just 5-for-18 shooting. Serge Ibaka (6-for-9) scored 14 points. Other Sunday night scores: Knicks 100, 76ers 84 Magic 115, Suns 94 Raptors 105, Timberwolves 86