Records: Lakers 7-0Pistons 6-2
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.2 Pistons 110.6
Defensive ratings: Lakers 91.3 Pistons 106.0
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Pistons: Allen Iverson, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, Kwame Brown
Lakers notes: I think anyone who watches a lot of hoops doesn’t think of Pau Gasol as soft. I could get into a breakdown of why, but the guys at SportshubLA do a very good job of dispelling that myth.
The Lakers have seven wins, all by at least a seven point margin. No team in the history of the NBA has started eight games that way. So there’s your first chance to make a big mark this season.
One interesting note over at the Lakers.com blog, something to look for in the future:
As a visiting scout told me last night, one thing the Hornets started doing was running David West along the baseline, which was pretty effective.
Deeeetroit Bas-ket-ball The Pistons are starting to adjust to playing with Iverson in the lineup.
I watched one of the Piston games before he arrived and I thought they could give the Celtics a run this year — until, in the second half of the Raptors game, I was reminded the Boston had another gear. Can Iverson add another gear to a very deep and talented Pistons team? That remains to be seen.
Iverson’s scoring is downt but his shooting percentage and just about everything else has been nearly identical from Denver to Detroit, save for one key area — three point shooting. He shot 25% to start the year in Denver but has hit 50% in Detroit. That starts to make the notoriously inefficient Iverson a more efficient player.
For the first three games with Iverson, it was clear the Pistons were trying to adjust to the faster pace that Iverson prefers. It’s not that they don’t have the athletes to run — Hamilton, Prince, Johnson among others — but it was a dramatic change as a team. For the first three games with Iverson in the lineup, the Pistons were averaging just one more possession per game than they had before AI put on the jersey.
But that changed last night, with a 101-possession game (they had been averaging 90). Now, granted, that was against a Warriors team that likes to get out and go, but if you watched by the end of the game the Pistons seemed to find their flow with the tempo. Certainly the Lakers, particularly the reserves, will be another test of speed for the Pistons.
Also, two roster notes. First, after a few games off, Detroit should have Rodney Stuckey back tonight, which is a huge boost off the bench (the Pistons are a deep team these days with Stuckey, Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson and Arron Afflalo).
The other is that Detroit started Kwame Brown. The reason, according to the announcers at TNT, is that in a series of games where the Pistons will face Andrew Bynum, Shaq, Perkins, the Pistons needed some size.
Oh, and in case you forgot, Tayshaun Prince is really good.
Keys To The Game: With Rasheed and Kobe in the same game, what is the under/over on technical fouls tonight?
The pace of the game tonight is going to be interesting. Tonight is the Piston’s first back-to-back of the season. As was noted above, last night in the Bay Area was the first time the Iverson-led Pistons got over 100 possessions for a game. Doing that back-to-back nights on the road with travel in between can be hard (remember the fourth quarter in New Orleans a couple nights ago), so the Lakers need to push it and wear Detroit out. I wouldn’t be shocked if this is one of those games that is close for three quarters but the Lakers pull away late when the Pistons’ legs get heavy. (Also, Kobe is 3-3 in fourth quarter three point shots this year, just so you know.)
Do not leave Rasheed Wallace alone for a three from the top of the key area. That is his shot.
With Kwame Brown starting, we know his strengths and weaknesses. If the Lakers just throw the ball to Bynum on the block and let Kwame man defend him, Kwame will do a pretty good job. However, get Bynum rolling off picks and moving off the ball, running the floor and getting early offense, Kwame will never be able to keep up. Last night the very active Andris Biedrins destroyed Kwame off the ball. Movement will be key.
Iverson, when with the Nuggets, probably had better success than any PG over the course of a game at breaking down the Lakers defense (CP3 was great in the second half, I thought). He got past the shading Derek Fisher so fast he created some one-one-one with the help defender (not traps) and the results were some open back door looks. The Lakers need to not let this happen, because the Pistons are a team that can pass, can finish on the weak side, and will make the Lakers pay for those errors.
One final note, don’t think of this as the 2004 Pistons. This current team is pretty average on defense, but very good on offense. Once again, the Lakers defense will be key to the win.
Where you can watch: 7:30 start here out west, with both Fox Sports and ESPN as options for watching this one. Of course, Spero sounds good on 570 AM as well.