THE FACTS: Pau Gasol had 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons, 98-97, at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Sunday. The Lakers squandered an 18-point, second-half lead but held on when the Pistons missed two shots in the final 3.8 seconds. Kobe Bryant had 18 points and five assists, including the go-ahead three-point play with 1:09 remaining. Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Will Bynum had 18 points and 10 assists. Lakers All-Star center Dwight Howard felt soreness in his ailing right shoulder and did not play.
QUOTABLE: "It's good, it's refreshing for me. It's satisfying for sure to play this kind of role again, to have the kind of role on this team that I've had for awhile."
-- Gasol, who lost his starting job last month before Howard was injured, on his second straight strong outing.
THE STAT: 126. The Pistons were mainly a jump-shooting team when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals six consecutive times from 2003-08. Under coach Lawrence Frank, they have evolved into a power team. They have scored 126 points in the paint in the last two games, including 64 against the Lakers. Detroit came into the game averaging 45.4 points in the paint, 2.4 more than its opponents.
TURNING POINT: Bryant airballed a 20-foot attempt with 1:41 remaining, so it wasn't surprisingly he wanted to redeem himself on the next possession. He drove in from the right wing and scored while getting fouled by Kyle Singler for his decisive three-point play. The Lakers didn't score again, but Bynum missed a layup with 3.8 seconds left and Detroit rookie Andre Drummond failed to convert an inbounded lob pass from Singler in the final second.
QUOTABLE II: "With the time that I'm getting, it's only natural that you get comfortable. Your teammates tell you what you need to do before the game. I'm just fitting into my role and it feels good to have a role on this team."
-- Lakers forward Earl Clark, who scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half.
HOT: Gasol, who lost his starting job to Clark last month, had 22 points and 12 rebounds against Minnesota on Friday when the Lakers snapped their eight-game road losing streak. He kept the offensive roll going on Sunday, making 10 of 18 field goals and 3 of 4 free throws. He also added three assists.
NOT: Steve Nash had a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists but it still wasn't a memorable game for him. He committed four turnovers and nearly blew the game by missing two free throws with 2.7 seconds left. Nash was 40 for 42 from the line this season before those misfires.
ROOKIE WATCH: Drummond had another strong game with nine points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Singler had 11 points and six rebounds but shot 4 for 12 from the field.
NOTABLE: Bryant passed Hakeem Olajuwon for seventh place on the all-time field goals list and has 10,757 for his career. ... The Lakers are 2-1 on their current seven-game road trip. They don't play another home game until Feb. 12. ... Hip-hop star Coolio performed at halftime. ... Los Angeles has won seven of the last eight meetings. ... Metta World Peace committed his 20th career flagrant foul in the second quarter. ... Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni is hopefully Howard, who has a torn labrum, can play sometime this week. "The pain is not going to go away," D'Antoni said. "It's a little bit of a tear and if it gets totally bad, we'll have to do something (surgically). But the way it is right now, he'll just have to deal with it." ... Pistons coach Frank traded texts with Bill Parcells Saturday night after Parcells was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Frank has known Parcells since he was a team manager at Indiana under coach Bob Knight. "I thought it was a year overdue but I know how honored he is to be part of such an esteemed group," Frank said. "He's one of the all-time great coaches." ... Point guard Jose Calderon, acquired by Detroit from Toronto on Wednesday, was ineligible to play because of visa issues. The Pistons hope the situation is resolved before they play at New York on Monday night.
UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Tuesday @ Brooklyn, Thursday @ Boston, Friday @ Charlotte. For the Pistons, Monday @ New York, Wednesday vs. Brooklyn, Friday vs. San Antonio.