LOS ANGELES -- There was a bad buzz building around the Los Angeles Lakers heading into Tuesday night's game against the Detroit Pistons. They had lost four of six, and Kobe Bryant had a message for his teammates.
"I told the guys, 'Listen to how everyone is talking about you. You have to use it as fuel for motivation,'" he said.
They heard him.
Pau Gasol scored 21 points and the Lakers finally found a sub.-500 team they could beat easily, winning 108-83 against the struggling Pistons.
Bryant added 17 points, moving him past Dominique Wilkins into 10th on the NBA's career scoring list with 26,671.
"That's a great honor," said Bryant, who cited Wilkins' dunks and jumping ability as his favorite things to watch as a kid.
"I'm baffled," Detroit's Ben Wallace said. "They made plays and they made shots, and we didn't. We turned the ball over, and they got on the break. And when they get on the break, they start feeling good about themselves and their shots go in."
The Lakers had lost three of their previous four home games. They had mixed results against their previous two sub.-500 opponents, barely beating Philadelphia 102-98 before losing to Memphis 104-85. Before that, they lost by 19 to Milwaukee and by 16 against Miami, both at home.
Odom cited the Lakers' commitment to playing defense as the difference between winning and losing their previous game, to
"It's important for us to maintain our focus, especially on the defensive end," he said. "It's early; we just continue to play, take our time. The playoffs aren't tomorrow."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson has a greater sense of urgency.
"We have to really turn it around," he said. "One game is not the end of this situation."
But the Lakers had an easier time against the Pistons, even if it took them an entire half to get going.
The Lakers took control in the third quarter after stumbling through a poor-shooting first half. Bryant was 4-of-15 with nine
points at the break, after going 0-for-9 in the opening quarter.
"It didn't mean a whole lot," Wallace said of Bryant's early struggles. "Kobe's going to keep coming, he's going to keep shooting and eventually he's going to get some points. He didn't move up to 10th all-time by not being able to score the basketball."
Bryant keyed a 16-2 run to open the third with six points, hitting two free throws after going 1-of-4 from the line in the first half and finishing Artest's steal with a fast-break driving dunk. His driving layup sent him past Wilkins and extended the Lakers' lead to 61-44.
"We played with more intensity," Bryant said. "We played a motivated game defensively. Those things combined into the kind of
blowout game we had."
From there, the Lakers cruised to a 76-59 lead heading into the fourth, in which they were similarly dominating at the start. Shannon Brown scored seven points in a 13-2 run that made it 89-61.
The Lakers swept the Pistons for the second straight season, having won 103-90 at Detroit. ... The Pistons are 0-for-8 in the second game of back-to-backs. ... The Lakers are 5-2 in the first game of back-to-backs, with the second game coming Wednesday night in Phoenix. ... Tom Hanks made a rare courtside appearance, while David Beckham went solo.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)