Nobody expected the Lakers to go 82-0, but nobody really predicted this either.
The Lakers did more than lose to the Detroit Pistons. They were pushed, prodded and posted up in a 106-95 thumping Friday that brought back shades of their struggles against another physical Eastern Conference team in June.
Kobe Bryant couldn't shoot straight, the Pistons aimed and fired from wherever they desired, and, for the final ignominy, the Lakers surrendered a double-double to Kwame Brown (remember him?).
It was a weird scene, almost surreal, but the sight that had played out in their road games -- fans leaving early when a Lakers victory became apparent -- unfolded in reverse at Staples Center as fans headed for the exits in the final minutes.
The Lakers hadn't been 8-0 since 1997-98, but, well, that's now a swing and a miss.
"We didn't do nothing good as a team -- defense, offense, extra effort, loose balls, steals," forward Lamar Odom said.
The Lakers (7-1), for all their success, had pushed the envelope in many of their victories.
They needed a 14-point fourth quarter from Bryant to slip past Denver and a 22-0 run after trailing the Clippers in the fourth quarter.
They trailed Houston by 16 in the second quarter, Dallas by 10 in the third quarter and almost blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead Wednesday in New Orleans.
Perhaps it finally caught up to them, karma turning its cheek when the Lakers leaned in for another peck.
Bryant scored 29 points against the Pistons but took a whopping 30 shots, making only 12.
Derek Fisher, a source of stability in a 20-point effort against New Orleans, missed 12 of 16 shots and finished with nine points.
Vladimir Radmanovic failed to find his stroke, scoring two points on one-for-six shooting.
"Kobe and Fish both had difficult nights shooting the ball," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "You're not going to win sometimes when that happens."
And to think Detroit was coming off a push-the-pace victory 24 hours earlier at Golden State.
It was the Lakers, however, who looked tired.
They trailed immediately, 12-2, and never led by more than two.
Radmanovic and Fisher were scoreless in the first half, missing all 10 of their combined shots as the Lakers went into halftime with a 53-44 deficit.
It didn't get much better from there, the Pistons leading by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter before the Lakers made it look a little better by the time the final horn sounded.
New acquisition Allen Iverson had 25 points, as did old Lakers nemesis Rasheed Wallace.
The Pistons made 50.7% of their shots, including a notable seven of 16 (43.8%) from three-point range.
"They came in tonight and shot the ball from about every spot on the court very well," Jackson said.
Andrew Bynum had eight points and nine rebounds. Pau Gasol had a quiet 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Pistons did a commendable job "muscling them off their spot," Jackson said, adding that Bynum and Gasol "didn't have a good base."
At least one player wasn't getting muscled out of the post.
Brown, who signed a two-year, $8-million deal with Detroit during the off-season, was booed the first time he touched the ball, but he didn't look half bad, finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds while demonstrating the ability to catch a pass on numerous occasions.
"He outplayed Andrew tonight . . . but Kwame's capable," Jackson said. "We know that he's had good games, and he had one tonight."
The Lakers can point to a friendly schedule in the near future, including six of their next seven games at home. Only two of them are against teams with winning records.
For now, however, they have plenty of time to mull the missed opportunities before their next game, Tuesday against Chicago.
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Kobe Bryant scored 29 points Friday night, moving him past Larry Bird and Gary Payton on the career scoring list:
*--* RK PLAYER POINTS 1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387 2. Karl Malone 36,928 3. Michael Jordan 32,292 4. Wilt Chamberlain 31,419 5. Moses Malone 27,409 6. Elvin Hayes 27,313 7. Hakeem Olajuwon 26,946 8. Oscar Robertson 26,710 9. Dominique Wilkins 26,668 10. Shaquille O'Neal* 26,431 11. John Havlicek 26,395 12. Alex English 25,613 13. Reggie Miller 25,279 14. Jerry West 25,192 15. Patrick Ewing 24,815 16. Charles Barkley 23,757 17. Robert Parish 23,334 18. Adrian Dantley 23,177 19. Allen Iverson* 23,156 20. Elgin Baylor 23,149 21. Clyde Drexler 22,195 22. Kobe Bryant* 21,817 23. Gary Payton 21,813 24. Larry Bird 21,791 25. Hal Greer 21,586 *--*