EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons, 107-92, Thursday in the fifth game of their seven-game trip. Here are three takeaways from the night:
1. The Lakers have enviable depth on their roster. If a starter sits out, there are plenty of reserves who typically take his spot.
No one on the Lakers fretted when Anthony Davis sat out Thursday’s game because of a bruised quad muscle. Kyle Kuzma stepped into his spot and played well but the Lakers’ offense as a whole took a second consecutive night off, a rarity since Davis and LeBron James began playing together last season.
The Lakers scored only 34 points in the second half and gave up a late 19-2 run. James had 20 points in the first half but only two the rest of the way. He missed all four of his shots and went scoreless in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know if we ran out of gas,” Lakers Coach Frank Vogel said. “We just didn’t have any rhythm in that second half in any way.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had another quiet game, scoring only six points after collecting only three the previous night against Philadelphia.
The Pistons (5-14) are not strong. They are a Bottom-10 team defensively and offensively. But Blake Griffin had a throwback game, scoring 23 points in a season where he was averaging only 12 a game.
2. Kuzma was in the starting lineup Thursday. You know what that means.
He scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds after joining the starting five. This is not surprising. Kuzma is fine off the bench for the Lakers. He’s just better as a starter.
He’d been silent lately in the scoring column, averaging four points over the previous four games. To his credit, he’d contributed in other ways, whether it was taking rebounds, blocking shots, or making the extra pass.
He picked up the scoring Thursday, drilling three three-pointers, and also stayed active in the rebounds department. The only knocks on him were his defensive numbers — he was a minus 16.
3. Talen Horton-Tucker jumped back on the rotation radar in a big way.
He logged two DNPs last week and played only three minutes in another game. Against Detroit, Horton-Tucker subtly reminded Vogel of his skill set.
Horton-Tucker was fearless in his drives to the basket, yet again, and finished with 13 points in only 14 minutes. He made all three of his three-point attempts.
It’s way too early to tell if the second-year player will get meaningful minutes several months from now in the playoffs. But he’s making an early case to not be forgotten.