Dwight Howard blocks Brandon Knight's shot. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
It's official. The Lakers won't go 0-82.
They beat the unimpressive Detroit Pistons, 108-79, gladly taking victory Sunday and avoiding their first 0-4 start since 1957.
Dwight Howard had 28 points and Lakers fans could briefly forget the news that Steve Nash might miss up to four weeks because of a small fracture in his left leg.
The Lakers acknowledged publicly that Nash would miss at least one week, but another three weeks could ultimately be tacked onto that assessment in a worst-case scenario, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Nash, however, tried to be optimistic, hoping for a return next week.
"You never know, right?" he said as he left the locker room. "It's up to Mother Nature….I guess anything's possible."
Nash did not wear a walking boot as he left the arena, a good sign for Lakers fans. He didn't break stride as he spoke to two reporters while holding his girlfriend's hand.
These days, the Lakers will throw their arms around any semblance of good news. Thankfully for them, the Pistons were in town.
"Obviously, we needed a win," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "It gives us a little belief."
The Lakers ended a bizarre streak of 13 consecutive losses that included their final two playoff games last season, eight exhibition games last month and a sluggish start this season that saw them outscored by an average of 107-97 before Sunday.
Surprisingly, Nash wasn't missed at Staples Center.
Lakers followers had been on edge lately, clamoring for more points, better defense, better coaching — just about everything.
They got the Lakers' most complete game, by far. The offense wasn't the same cumbersome mess it was while the Lakers went 0-3 for the first time since 1978. The defense actually held Detroit to 35.4% shooting.
There were even plays to remember, Kobe Bryant sending a behind-the-back pass to the post, where Pau Gasol quickly lobbed the ball to Howard for a dunk. It gave the Lakers a 79-44 lead, with 4:49 left in the third quarter.
"It feels good to see what we've been working on come to fruition out there a little bit," said Bryant, who had 15 points and eight assists.
By beating the Pistons (0-3), the Lakers avoided another uncomfortable statistic among their early-season stumbles. They had not lost their first three home games since 1959. Crisis averted.
Howard was strong from the start, getting 20 points and six rebounds in the first half. He finished with almost as many points as minutes played (33) and made 12 of 14 shots.
Metta World Peace also made an impact after coming into the game with a seven-point scoring average and 34.8% accuracy. He had 18 points on seven-for-11 shooting.
Steve Blake had six points, six assists and five steals in place of Nash, who won't be evaluated again until the end of this week.
Nash was injured Wednesday when he was kneed by a Portland player while trying to run down court. An MRI exam a few days later revealed a non-displaced fracture in Nash's leg.
"You obviously hope he's back as soon as possible," Brown said. "But the one thing you don't want to do, you don't want to compromise his long-term health for him coming back quicker than he should."
The Lakers needed a comeback, a pick-me-up. Maybe Sunday was the start of something.