The Los Angeles Lakers aren't merely the NBA's last undefeated team, they're the league's most dominant, winning by an average of 18 points each time they've taken the court.
To stay perfect, they'll have to beat the Detroit Pistons - a team they've been far from flawless against in recent years.
Kobe Bryant and the Lakers will get their first look at Allen Iverson in a Pistons uniform Friday night at Staples Center, where they'll try to remain perfect against a Detroit club that's beaten them in seven of their last nine meetings.
Los Angeles seems eager to erase its final image from last season's playoffs, a 39-point blowout loss in Boston in Game 6 of the NBA finals. The Lakers (7-0) have been the ones delivering the lopsided results so far in 2008-09, averaging a league-high 104.7 points and yielding a league-low 86.7.
They've won their last two by just seven points apiece, but both victories came on the road against Western Conference playoff teams. Los Angeles jumped out to a 23-point third-quarter lead Wednesday before hanging on for a 93-86 victory at New Orleans to stay unbeaten.
"If at the end of the season it's like this then it would mean a lot,'' coach Phil Jackson said. "There have been a lot of teams that have gotten off to good starts and it doesn't mean they have a great finish, but this is what we want to do and we're doing the right thing."
The Lakers have been even more impressive at home, winning by an average of 22.3 points. Recently, though, they've struggled regardless of where they've played Detroit. Los Angeles has won just twice in its last nine meetings with the Pistons, losing by an average of 7.7 points.
The key for Detroit has been containing Bryant. The reigning NBA MVP has been held to 20 points or fewer in five of his last eight games versus the Pistons.
Bryant is averaging 24.1 points this season - still among the top 10 in the league - but his teammates have provided more consistent offense. Seven Lakers average at least 8.4 points, including previously little-used reserve Trevor Ariza, who's scoring 10.0 ppg in 22.4 minutes after coming back from a broken right foot.
Los Angeles hasn't had a lot of success against Detroit in the past five years, and now there's a former league MVP to worry about defending.
Iverson wasn't great in his first two games with the Pistons (6-2) after coming over in a trade with Denver, averaging 17.0 points in a pair of losses. Since Detroit started its four-game Western road trip, though, Iverson has picked up his game. He scored 30 Tuesday in a win over Sacramento, then totaled 23 points and nine assists Thursday in a 107-102 win at Golden State.
"The best part about it is we struggled at times in the game but we got it done,'' Iverson said. "We're going into the next game with some confidence. It's going to be a good measuring stick for us.''
The Pistons and Lakers haven't played this season, but Iverson has already faced Los Angeles. He went just 3-of-8 for 13 points in his last game with the Nuggets, a 104-97 Los Angeles win on Nov. 1.
Tayshaun Prince has been Detroit's go-to scorer lately against Los Angeles, averaging 21.5 points in his last eight games in the series.
Prince is averaging team highs of 21.0 ppg and 11.0 rebounds in his last five contests this season.
Guard Rodney Stuckey is expected to return for Detroit after missing two games due to dizziness.
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