The Los Angeles Lakers finally resembled the team many expected they would be as they blasted the Detroit Pistons 108-79 on Sunday to end their early-season slide.
The Lakers had begun the new season 0-3 for the first time since 1978, a shocking development for a team who acquired All-Stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the off-season.
However, on Sunday they shook off the rust against the Pistons, Howard scoring a game-high 28 points and Metta World Peace adding 18 as Los Angeles quickly dominated by grabbing a 21-point lead after the first quarter.
“We weren’t perfect, but I think everybody got a little taste in terms of what [we] can be like,” Lakers coach Mike Brown told reporters. “I’m really excited about the direction of where we can go. We’re just barely scratching the surface.”
The chemistry problems that had plagued the Lakers, who include Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant, in previous games was not an issue as they tallied 27 assists.
Bryant had eight assists to go along with 15 points and seven rebounds.
After scoring 40 in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, Bryant played the role of facilitator.
“They obviously saw how I played last game and they tried to cut down my lanes a little bit,” Bryant said. “I was able to hit my guys and they made shots.”
The Lakers were again without Nash, who will miss at least a week with a left-leg fracture.
The Pistons shot just 35 percent and trailed by as many as 36 points in the third quarter. Los Angeles, on the other hand, seemed to be hitting on all cylinders and kept everyone involved.
Gasol added 14 points, while Jordan Hill came off the bench to add 11 and seven rebounds.
KNICKS 100, 76ERS 84
In New York, Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points and J.R. Smith had 20 as the Knicks rode another big three-point shooting night to a victory over the 76ers in the opener of their home-and-home series.
Jason Kidd had 12 points and six assists, while Raymond Felton added 11 points for the Knicks (2-0), who followed their 19 three-pointers in a season-opening victory over Miami by making 11 on Sunday. They have won their two games by a combined 36 points.
Jrue Holiday had 27 points and seven assists for the 76ers (1-1), who will try for a split at home. Thaddeus Young scored 16 points before fouling out, while Evan Turner had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
RAPTORS 105, TIMBERWOLVES 86
In Toronto, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan each scored 22 points, while Alan Anderson had 18 as the Raptors earned their first victory of the season, beating Minnesota.
Andrea Bargnani scored 10 points as the Raptors extended Minnesota’s miserable record against Toronto. The Raptors have won 15 of the past 16 meetings, including nine straight at home. Minnesota have not won in Toronto since Jan. 21, 2004.
Andrei Kirilenko scored 17 points and Nikola Pekovic had 15 for the Timberwolves, who were outscored 26-13 in the fourth quarter.
Sunday’s other results:
‧ Magic 115, Suns 94
‧ Hawks 104, Thunder 95