The Los Angeles Lakers of Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, et al, won a game. After eight preseason losses that did not matter much but three regular season defeats, concern set in with this team that had been projected by many to be a championship contender.
Then the Detroit Pistons came to town and proved to be an elixir.
After their worst start to a season in 34 years, the Lakers finally, occasionally resembled the powerhouse most expected to see this season — even without Nash, who missed his second game with a small fracture in his leg. Los Angeles took a 28-point lead in the first half and stretched it to 36 points in the third quarter before winning 108-79.
“We had to stop the bleeding, and there wasn’t a way to do it other than . . . getting a solid win,” forward Pau Gasol, who scored 14 points, said. “We’ve got a little bit of tension out of ourselves right now.”
Howard was a force inside with 28 points. Bryant had 15, 8 assists and 7 rebounds. Metta World Peach contributed 18 points.
“We needed this bad, just to change the mood and give us some of that feel-good feeling,” said reserve guard Steve Blake, who started in Nash’s place. “Losing games was tough. I guess we did a good job of staying positive, but it feels good, that’s for sure.”
Howard excelled in the paint hitting 12 of 14 shots — most of them right at the rim — and grabbing seven rebounds with just one foul.
“It’s a relief — more for Mike (Brown, coach) than anybody else,” said Bryant, who appeared to play easily on his sore foot while taking just 10 shots and grabbing seven rebounds.
“We weren’t perfect offensively, but I think everybody — including us — got a good taste of what it can be like,” Brown said. “We’re just barely scratching the surface on where this thing can go. . . Obviously, we needed a win. Every win we get gives us a little more belief on both ends of the floor.”