A six-game road trip that started out in promising fashion has gone sour for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers have lost three in a row as they wrap up their journey Sunday in Detroit against the Pistons.
Los Angeles defeated Milwaukee and Washington on the first two legs of the trip, but that was followed by losses in Cleveland, Toronto and Philadelphia, dropping the Lakers five games below .500.
They nearly pulled off an unlikely comeback against the Sixers on Friday. The Lakers were down 18 points in the fourth quarter and still trailed by nine with 30 seconds left before a wild ending.
“I told the team that as disappointed as I am that we didn’t get the win, I still can have a good meal and sleep like a baby tonight because of the way we competed,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “We did not quit. We did not give up.”
In the frantic final minute of regulation, Philadelphia committed three turnovers and missed a free throw, and the Lakers capitalized, tying the game to send it into overtime.
“There was a point in the game where we could have just folded our tent,” Ham said. “But we kept scratching away, kept digging deep, kept making plays, one stop after another one and put ourselves in a position to win the game.”
The Lakers missed two free throws in the closing seconds, including one by star Anthony Davis with three seconds remaining.
Once overtime commenced, the Lakers had nothing left and were outscored 13-2 in the 133-122 loss.
Davis, who played just eight minutes against Cleveland and then missed the Toronto matchup due to a non-COVID illness, finished with 31 points and 12 rebounds. Battling a sore ankle, LeBron James scored 23 points but missed seven of his eight 3-point shots.
“We came here and played Lakers basketball for sure,” James said. “We competed. We shared the ball. We defended at a high level.
“We understand that we can have a really good trip if we close out the right way in Detroit on Sunday. So, we look forward to that matchup.”
The Pistons have lost six of their last eight and have fallen into the cellar of the Eastern Conference. They lost in New Orleans 104-98 on Wednesday and in Memphis 114-103 on Friday.
In the latter, the Pistons trailed by double digits virtually the entire second half.
“It was our starts,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “The start of the first quarter and the start of the third quarter. We gave up a 37-point third quarter, not coming out with the right disposition, knowing they’re an excellent third quarter team.
“Our two guards — we’ve got to handle the ball better against pressure.”
Casey was referring to rookie Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes. Ivey committed five of Detroit’s 19 turnovers, which led to 25 Grizzlies points. Hayes got into early foul trouble and made three turnovers in less than 19 minutes of action.
“To come out in the second half, we started off with turnovers,” forward/center Isaiah Stewart said. “I think that was the game right there.”
The Pistons trailed by eight at halftime but a quick turnover — and four in the opening minutes (two of them by Isaiah Stewart) — enabled Memphis to expand the margin to 17.
Rookie center Jalen Duren made his first career start and posted a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Marvin Bagley III, who lost his starting job to Duren, contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocks but also committed three turnovers.
The Lakers won the first meeting with the Pistons 128-121 in Los Angeles as Davis piled up 38 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.
–Field Level Media