Gasol helps Lakers hold on to beat Pistons, 98-97
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In a season full of turmoil and frustration, this would have been a particularly exasperating loss for the Los Angeles Lakers.
One of the most accurate free throw shooters in NBA history had missed two, giving the Detroit Pistons one more chance at a game-winning shot. Kyle Singler lobbed the ball toward the basket, and rookie Andre Drummond stretched his 6-foot-11-inch frame and tried a one-handed dunk with Pau Gasol defending. No good. The Lakers held on for a 98-97 victory.
‘‘Every game is like a playoff game for us right now,’’ Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni said. ‘‘Crazy things happen in playoff games.’’
Gasol had 23 points and 10 rebounds and was the last line of defense on Detroit’s final alley-oop attempt Sunday in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Lakers blew an 18-point third-quarter lead but overcame their late free throw struggles to win for the fifth time in six games. Los Angeles has won two in a row without Dwight Howard. The All-Star center sat out again with a right shoulder problem.
Kobe Bryant’s driving 3-point play with 1:09 remaining gave the Lakers a 98-95 lead, and they held on despite missing four free throws in the final 16.8 seconds.
Steve Nash — a 90.4 percent foul shooter for his career — missed two free throws with 2.7 seconds left. Down by 1, the Pistons inbounded from midcourt with 1.2 seconds to play. They tried a lob to Drummond, but with Gasol contesting the play, Drummond couldn’t convert. Drummond looked surprised that no foul was called on the play.
‘‘I have no comment,’’ he said afterward when asked if there was contact.
Heat 100, Raptors 85 — Both on the court and along the sideline, Miami will be well represented at this month’s NBA All-Star Game.
LeBron James scored 30 points, Chris Bosh had 28 against his former team, and the Heat beat host Toronto for their 10th straight victory over the Raptors.
The win guarantees Miami the top spot in the Eastern Conference as of Feb. 3, percentage points ahead of the Knicks. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and his staff will be in charge when the East All-Stars suit up in Houston in two weeks.
‘‘It’s awesome,’’ James said. ‘‘It’s a testament to our coaches’ preparedness. As players we go out there and just try to execute their game plan. We’re happy for them.’’
Spoelstra, the fifth-year coach who led the Heat to the NBA championship last June, called the All-Star nod ‘‘a heck of an honor.’’
Dwyane Wade added 23 points as the Heat bounced back after Friday’s 102-89 loss at Indiana.