So much for four in a row.
Two days after the Lakers finally experienced what it felt like to win three consecutive games, the Detroit Pistons ended all the fun, much as they did last June in the NBA Finals.
Laker championship-parade plans didn't have to be scrapped this time, but aspirations of a playoff appearance took a slight step back after a 111-90 loss to the Pistons in front of 18,997 Friday at Staples Center.
Ben Wallace kept taking rebounds, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton kept making jump shots, and it might as well have been one of the four games the Lakers lost to the Pistons in last year's one-sided championship.
As if still feeling the pain, Laker fans booed the home team after a flurry of Laker turnovers provided the Pistons with a 100-79 lead with 5:17 left to play.
"Offensively, I know our guys are confused," Coach Frank Hamblen said. "We've put them through a lot since Monday, thrown a lot of stuff at them. But still there's no reason to play that poor defensively."
The Lakers had taken small steps in their return to the triangle offense, but there was nothing to signify progress against the Pistons. The Pistons had 10 steals, stepping into passing lanes and erasing any flow in the Laker offense. The Laker had 14 turnovers, the Pistons only six.
"Right now, because we're trying to learn the triangle so much, we don't get easy opportunity baskets," said guard Chucky Atkins, who had nine points. "We ain't even attacking anybody no more. We've got to attack."
Kobe Bryant had 20 points and 11 assists. Lamar Odom had 12 points. Caron Butler, who sat out two games because of a stomach virus, had 10 points, as did Chris Mihm.
It wasn't nearly enough to keep Staples Center fans from leaving en masse with three minutes left to play. The score at the time: 107-83, Pistons.
"Disappointing night at Staples Center," Hamblen said.
The Lakers were thoroughly whipped Feb. 10 by the Pistons at Auburn Hills, Mich., trailing from beginning to end and losing by 22 points.
Friday wasn't much different.
An 18-8 Piston lead quickly ballooned to 35-19 on Antonio McDyess' fade-away jumper with 9:45 left in the second quarter. The Lakers trailed at halftime, 58-45, and never came closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Billups, the most valuable player of last year's Finals, had 23 points Friday. Tayshaun Prince had 26 points, Rasheed Wallace had 19 and Hamilton had 18. Ben Wallace had 13 rebounds.
"They're playing like the Detroit Pistons of last year," Bryant said.
Thinking big picture, the Lakers had a chance to pull into a tie with the Memphis Grizzlies for seventh place in the Western Conference. Thinking bleak picture, 18 of the Lakers' final 29 games are on the road.
Odom suggested earlier in the week that the Lakers needed to go undefeated at home the rest of the way to ensure a playoff spot. With that now out of the question, the Lakers begin a three-game trip Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.
"We have to win on the road if we are to make the playoffs," Hamblen said. "Maybe we can take our act on the road and bond together and figure out what we're going to do offensively."
Defense could use some improvement as well.
The Pistons made 44 of 82 shots (53.7%).
"We were very poor defensively the whole game," Hamblen said. "In regards to pick and rolls, they were walking in and getting layups. They basically toyed with us tonight."
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The Lakers are 3-8 against Detroit since 2003, including the 2004 NBA Finals (*).
*--* Date Result Site Feb. 25, 2005 L, 111-90 L.A. Feb. 10, 2005 L, 103-81 Detroit June 15, 2004 L, 100-87* Detroit June 13, 2004 L, 88-80* Detroit June 10, 2004 L, 88-68* Detroit June 8, 2004 W, 99-91, OT* L.A. June 6, 2004 L, 87-75* L.A. Nov. 18, 2003 L, 106-96 Detroit Nov. 14, 2003 W, 94-89 L.A. March 12, 2003 L, 111-88 Detroit Feb. 27, 2003 W, 95-85 L.A.