LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart were on the same court again one week after mayhem broke loose in Detroit.
There were no ejections this time around and instead just two teams looking to earn a win after each unit came into the night having lost their previous game.
James did his part in leading his team back to the win column, recording 33 points, nine assists, and five rebounds, enabling the Los Angeles Lakers to defeat the Pistons 110-106 on Sunday night at Staples Center.
The Lakers (11-11) improved to .500 with the win, desperately looking to gain some momentum after a disappointing triple-overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday. The Pistons (4-16) losing streak increased to six games after falling to Los Angeles for the second time in eight days.
“We were mad as heck the other night after that Sac loss,” James said. “We made it a point to come in today very focused on our game plan, learning from our mistakes, and we got better. Right there lets me know we’re a team that cares and wants to get better.”
Russell Westbrook had 25 points and nine assists, and Anthony Davis added 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers. Talen Horton-Tucker had 12 points, eight rebounds, and four assists off the bench for Los Angeles.
“That Sac game lingered with us for a couple of days, giving that game away,” Davis said. “I think we did a good job defensively tonight, getting this kick-start to a winning streak.”
Stewart was booed from start to finish once he took the floor with the spotlight shining on him and James after both players were ejected from the teams’ previous meeting at Little Caesars Arena a week ago after a heated altercation.
James was ejected and given a Flagrant-2 foul when he struck Stewart in the face while the two were boxing out each other for rebounding position.
Stewart was distraught and immediately went at James numerous times while being held back by teammates and security, causing an ugly scene that ultimately resulted in James serving a one-game suspension for the strike to the face and Stewart getting a two-game ban for his response.
“It’s just basketball,” Jerami Grant said. “Things happen on the court, but you’ve got to get your mind right and get ready to play.”
The Lakers held a three-point lead through the first 24 minutes of play and outscored the Pistons 58-40 in points in the paint for the game.
Grant led Detroit with 32 points, converting four three pointers, Frank Jackson had 17 and No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Pistons. Stewart had five points and six rebounds in 27 minutes of play.
“We found the open guys and made our shots,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “The only concerning part with the offense is our (17) turnovers. That’s huge. That’s 17 attempts you take away for shooting the ball in a five-point game. Careless passing. We put our finger in one hole, and another one opens up. Nobody gets a participation trophy. Close doesn’t count.”
Los Angeles jumped out to a 19-point lead in the third quarter behind a 16-0 run, only to see the Pistons rally back to get within six, 97-91 with 5:48 left in the fourth thanks to a 13-2 run of their own.
Grant finished a dunk up to get within three, 109-106 with 2.1 seconds left but Horton-Tucker put the game away with a free throw to give the Lakers a 110-106 victory.
“It’s disappointing (to not fully close out games), but at the same time I understand the process,” Westbrook said. “Adversity is something that I think is great in life in general. It builds character. It shows who you really are when things aren’t going your way.”
The Lakers will next travel to take on the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, followed by returning home to host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.