PREVIEW: Los Angeles Lakers look to avenge rare loss to struggling Pistons

Feb 4, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) high-fives Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (right) after scoring in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Ion the middle is Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroder (17). Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers looked passive in the first half of their contest Thursday against the Denver Nuggets. But that changed during the break when Lakers coach Frank Vogel criticized his club’s play.

“Coach got on us at halftime about our energy and pace, energy on the defensive end and pace on the offensive end,” said Anthony Davis, who had 13 points and nine rebounds and was one of seven Lakers to score in double figures in a 114-93 win over the visiting Nuggets.

“Guys talked in the locker room and we were able to come out in the third quarter and hold them to 17 points while scoring 37 points. So our pace was really good coming out of halftime.”

The Lakers will try to duplicate their second-half effort Saturday when they host the woeful Detroit Pistons.

The Lakers will look to avenge a surprising 107-92 loss to the Pistons at Detroit on Jan. 28. Blake Griffin scored 23 points as the Pistons wiped out a two-point halftime deficit and outplayed the Lakers in the second half. They held the Lakers to 34 points while scoring 51 points after intermission. Detroit’s Wayne Ellington contributed 20 points against his former club.

Davis missed the contest with a right quad contusion. In his absence, LeBron James had 22 points and 10 assists, while Kyle Kuzma added 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Read More: RECAP: Pistons silence Lakers late, win going away

Against the Nuggets, James had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, as the Lakers won their third straight game.

Los Angeles trailed 58-46 at the half before dominating in the second half, outscoring Denver 68-35.

James passed Wilt Chamberlain (12,681) for No. 3 on career field goals made with his third bucket in the first quarter. James, who ended the night with 12,691, trails only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (15,837) and Karl Malone (13,528).

“The number doesn’t do much for me. I think it’s the association with a legend like Wilt Chamberlain,” James said.

The Pistons, who own the NBA’s worst record at 5-17, will be playing the second end of back-to-back contests. On Friday, they lost 109-92 at the Phoenix Suns for their third consecutive setback and eighth in 10 games.

Jerami Grant scored 21 points to lead Detroit, which fell into a big hole early and never recovered. Rookie Saddiq Bey, who started in place of Ellington, who sat out with a calf injury, finished with 14 points.

“Saddiq is a strong kid. He’s an excellent defender, moves his feet well,” Detroit coach Dwane Casey said, according to the club’s website. “I thought he turned down some 3s that he needs to take. His rhythm is a little off with his 3-point shooting, but he’s growing.”

The Suns grabbed a 57-44 lead at the break and never relinquished it. The Pistons cut the deficit to 11 in the fourth quarter but got no closer.

The Pistons shot just 37.4 percent from the floor compared to 49.4 percent for the Suns. Detroit also managed just 7 of 36 on 3-pointers (19.4 percent) to 12 of 32 (37.5 percent) for Phoenix.

Pistons guard Derrick Rose (rest) also did not play.

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–Field Level Media