The Lakers were able to snap their losing streak Saturday, finding a way to climb out of a 17 point early deficit to beat the tanking Grizzlies. The game wasn’t pretty and offered many moments of frustration, but a win is a win and the Lakers really needed one of those – regardless of the circumstances.
They will look to end their 4 game road trip 2-2 tonight, in Detroit, against a Pistons team that sorely needs to get some wins to keep their fading playoff hopes alive. The Pistons remade their roster at the trade deadline, acquiring Blake Griffin from the Clippers in exchange for a 1st round pick, Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, and Boban Marjonavic.
The trade gave Detroit a shot in the arm early, but they’ve since leveled off and the odds favor them being in the lottery, not the postseason. Which makes the 1st round pick they’re giving the Clippers that much more valuable. It’s no wonder the Pistons are exploring a shift with their front office. But I digress.
As for tonight, Brandon Ingram will not play. Again. He did some 2-on-2 work yesterday, but he’s still not cleared to return to real game action. So, he sits. As will Isaiah Thomas. That leaves the Lakers with the same players they had vs. the Grizzlies on Saturday — though Gary Payton II and Thomas Bryant will return from the G-League and be available.
I’m just going to say this bluntly — the Lakers will have no business winning this game. They’re down too many players and are facing a team that desperately needs wins. This game is on the road and at the end of a 4-game trip. They’re likely to be physically and mentally tired, dealing with fatigue from travel, from playing short handed, and from carrying heavy workloads. The minutes the front-line guys have been playing have been hard ones, requiring an attention to detail and physical readiness that is beyond what would normally be the case.
Beyond these factors, Detroit offers a couple of problems and their names are Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. These guys are not only matchup problems in their own right, they also have the ability to neutralize two of the Lakers best players in Julius Randle and Brook Lopez. Normally the latter two Lakers have an advantage they can exploit in order to help them stay in and win games. Tonight, though, there is potential for them to be either stalemated or, potentially, outplayed.
And while the Pistons have their own problems on the wing, one has to wonder if the Lakers can play well enough with their remaining guys to truly turn that into a big advantage. Oh, Kyle Kuzma — making a bit of a homecoming after growing up in nearby Flint — and Lonzo Ball have the talent. But it will take strong performances — especially from Ball — to get the Lakers a W. Maybe that comes, but with how he’s struggled of late, that’s by no means a guarantee.
Where you can watch: 4:00pm start time on Spectrum Sportsnet.