Citizens of Los Angeles. Take a breath. In. Out. Feel better?
The crisis situation in Los Angeles is on hold, at least for now. The new powerhouse Lakers finally won a game, after a winless preseason and an 0-3 regular-season start. There are no style points in the NBA, but the way they creamed the Detroit Pistons has to make fans feel a bit better about their team.
It takes time for a new team to learn to play together, and if the Lakers took a few weeks, that is okay.
The start to the Lakers' 2012-13 campaign was sloppy. It was primarily marked by turnovers on offense and sloppiness on defense. They gave up 99, 116 and 105 respectively to the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers and Los Angeles Clippers.
One would naturally expect an improvement from that, considering the presence of two Defensive Player of the Year winners on the roster. The defense was certainly better—at least for one night—in the 108-79 win. The Pistons shot on 35 percent, compared to 52 percent by the Lakers.
The starters did not play much in a dull second half. However, the first half showed us a glimpse of how dominant this team is capable of being. By halftime, the Lakers already led 62-34, outscoring the Pistons by 21 points in the first quarter and seven more in the second.
Bryant had an undeniably efficient first half, shooting 4-of-7 and adding eight assists and four rebounds. He also committed only a single turnover. As a team, the seven turnovers and six fouls committed were much cleaner than their first six halves together as a team. In the 19 first-half minutes he played, Kobe acquired a plus-28 differential.
Dwight started to really look like Dwight in the first half. He scored 20 points on only nine shots while also contributing six rebounds and two blocks. Meanwhile, he and the rest of the Lakers finally started to play some good defense. They held the Pistons to 14-of-36 shooting and only five free-throw attempts. Howard would finish the game with 28 points from just 14 shots.
Jordan Hill also contributed, scoring 11 points on four shots and adding seven rebounds. Metta World Peace scored 18 points on 11 shots, including three three-pointers. Chris Duhon nabbed a quick three assists in his four minutes of action.
The Pistons were fairly locked down across the board. No one on the team shot better than 56 percent. Point guard Rodney Stuckey is off to a rough start this season, shooting a total of 1-of-23 including Sunday's game.
The Lakers (now 1-3) next travel to Utah to play the 1-2 Jazz. Steve Nash will almost certainly still be sitting out with the small fracture in his left leg. The rest of the team should be good to go.