Bryant, Odom Lead Lakers Over Pistons
L.A. Lakers 105, Detroit 94
LOS ANGELES, March 4 (Ticker) -- Even though Kobe Bryant had his usual offensive output, his supporting cast made the difference when it came to pulling out the victory.
Bryant scored 40 points and Lamar Odom added 24 with 10 assists as the Los Angeles Lakers ended a four-game losing streak against the Detroit Pistons with a 105-94 triumph.
"They backed me up shooting well tonight and gave a great effort," said Bryant, who was suffering from a sinus infection. said. "We got great play from Lamar, who really is a big key for us. When he comes out and plays that well, he really brings a lot of balance to our ballclub."
Trailing, 78-68, with 3:08 remaining in the third quarter, the Lakers scored the final 12 points of the period. Kwame Brown made a three-point play, Smush Parker dunked and Odom scored seven points and capped the run with a 3-pointer with two seconds left. The Lakers extended the burst early in the fourth as Devean George made a pair of baskets and Odom buried 16-foot jumper to finish an 18-0 run and widen the lead to 86-78 with 9:26 remaining.
"It was like playoff atmosphere," Odom said. "Even when they were down 10 points with three minutes to play, it felt like they were still in the game. They are so tough. (Chauncey Billups) is a great leader and they've got great players. They play to keep their deficit under double figures and that is definitely a quality ballclub."
After Tony Delk made a 3-pointer for Detroit with 5:50 left to cut the deficit to 90-85, Bryant got back into the act. He hit a pair of jumpers and teamed with George to sink 10-of-10 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
"I feel like it was a good confidence booster for us because we were able to do it against a great team," Bryant said. "This is something we can carry over." "The key was Bryant had help tonight," said Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, who scored 13 points. "Odom did a good job of knocking down outside shots. Parker ran things well and they got a couple of dunks that got the crowd into the game so the atmosphere was (good) for them and that made it a little bit easier for Kobe."
Bryant was 13-of-26 from the floor and made all 13 foul shots. Chris Mihm scored 12 points and Brian Cook had 10 for the Lakers (31-29), who lead Sacramento and Utah by two games in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot. Billups scored 24 points and Richard Hamilton added 20 for the Pistons (48-11), who were outrebounded, 44-30.
"This is a very disappointing loss for us," Billups said. "We have to win these games and we know that. We slipped up tonight and they played hard. This is a game where we feel we beat ourselves. We've done a good job of not doing that very often this year and when we have done that, we have picked up right away."
"(The Lakers) were extremely aggressive," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We got pounded on the glass and they took things to the basket. We played out of character defensively. We were switching and getting little (guys) matched on big (guys) and we took the easy way out by settling for jump shots."
Despite splitting their four-game road trip, the Pistons remain one of the league's best road teams (22-9) and are closing in on their fifth consecutive 50-win season.
"This is our seventh game in seven different cities in 10 days," Saunders said. "This has been a rough stretch and I think the common thing that has happened to us the last three games is that our shooting percentage in the second half is going down, which is usually a sign of dead legs."