Pistons Take on Lakers

After snapping their longest losing streak of the season in their last game, the Los Angeles Lakers hope to end a similarly frustrating stretch in Detroit.

The short-handed Lakers open a nine-game road trip Thursday, trying to avoid a ninth consecutive road loss to the Central Division-leading Pistons.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Detroit –7.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 197 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles +7.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

Los Angeles (28-15) will travel a total of 8,173 miles on this road swing, which spans 14 days and will take the team into the All-Star break.

"You go on the road, it's going to be a hostile environment, the home teams inevitably are going to go on runs," Kobe Bryant told the Lakers' official Web site. "The important thing for us is to keep our poise and just execute."

The trip begins in a city where the Lakers have not won since Jan. 8, 2002, having lost eight in a row at Detroit by an average of 15.8 points. That skid includes three defeats in the 2004 NBA finals.

Bryant has struggled against the Pistons (32-13), averaging 21.4 points in 20 regular-season games against them - his lowest average versus any opponent. He's been held below 20 points in three straight games against Detroit, and limited to an average of 20.3 points in 12 career games - including playoffs - at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

However, Los Angeles has been more successful lately when Bryant has not scored a lot. Over the last five games, he has averaged 20.5 points and 11.0 assists in two wins, compared to 34.0 points and 5.3 assists in three defeats.

Bryant scored 24 points in a 120-109 win over the New York Knicks on Tuesday as the Lakers snapped a season-high, three-game losing streak. They rallied to win after trailing 100-91 midway through the fourth quarter.

"Defense was a hope and a prayer for the first three quarters for us tonight, but we found a way to defend a little bit at the end of the game," coach Phil Jackson said.

Los Angeles had six players score in double figures. Reserve Sasha Vujacic scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter.

Jackson said the Lakers need players like Vujacic to step up because of injuries. Andrew Bynum (left knee), Chris Mihm (right ankle bursitis) and Trevor Ariza (broken right foot) already were sidelined going into Tuesday's game, and they were joined by Luke Walton, who left in the first quarter with a right hip pointer. His status for Thursday is uncertain.

Vujacic, averaging 6.9 points in 33 games this season and 10.8 in the last six, said he's trying to take advantage of the extended playing time.

"Everybody loves to play," Vujacic said. "My moment has arrived here with the Lakers. Unfortunately, it's because of injuries."

The Lakers now visit a Detroit team which has won three straight, including a 110-104 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.

Rasheed Wallace had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and six Pistons scored in double figures.

This win streak is Detroit's longest since winning 11 in a row from Dec. 14-Jan. 4. The Pistons lost six of nine after that.

Wallace said nothing specific has changed, although Detroit is shooting 48.5 percent from the field over the last three games after shooting 41.3 percent during the 3-6 stretch.

"We're just playing ball," Wallace said. "We've run into some teams that are all geeked up to play us and that just lets us know that we're still one of the top teams in this league."

Thursday's game opens a five-game homestand for the Pistons, who also will face the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers. They are 15-4 at The Palace this season.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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