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02/03/2013 5:38 PM EST
Gasol helps Lakers hold on to beat Pistons 98-97
LA LAKERS 98, DETROIT 97

By NOAH TRISTER
AP Sports Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- 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 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. "And some 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. 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 three-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 one, 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," Drummond said afterward when asked if there
was contact.



Detroit was still without guard Jose Calderon, who the Pistons
acquired from Toronto on Wednesday. The Spanish-born Calderon
has not been available to play because of unresolved visa
issues.



The Lakers trail eighth-place Houston by 3 1/2 games in the
Western Conference playoff race. Bryant scored 18 points but
shot poorly from the perimeter. After an airball with the score
tied at 95, he decided to drive to the basket the next time
down. Bryant muscled through a foul and scored a basket that was
counted on a continuation call.



Detroit's Will Bynum cut the lead to one, and after Gasol
missed, Drummond missed a baseline fadeaway that would have
given the Pistons the lead. Earl Clark missed two free throws
for Los Angeles with 16.8 seconds left, but Bynum's driving shot
over Gasol went off the glass and rattled in and out.



That set the stage for Nash, whose two misses dropped him
percentage points behind Mark Price for the top free throw
percentage in NBA history for players with at least 1,200
attempts.



"I feel bad that it could've cost us the game and that I choked
two up there," Nash said. "A win is a win, but I take a lot of
pride in being a fourth-quarter player and making shots,
particularly free throws."



The Lakers scored 10 straight points early in the third to take
a 72-54 lead. Bryant highlighted that run with a one-handed dunk
while Detroit's Brandon Knight tried in vain to prevent an easy
basket.



"We were moving the ball well in the first half, but we got
comfortable in the second half again. That's been a problem,"
Gasol said. "Drummond changed things, but a lot of that was
because of Bynum. He's so fast that he gets into the lane and
opens a lot of things up for Drummond."



The Pistons rallied quickly, with Drummond showing off his
athleticism around the basket. Drummond's two-handed dunk over
Gasol made it 76-70, and the Lakers led 78-72 after three.



"We weren't moving the ball, we were over-dribbling the
basketball and we weren't guarding anyone," Detroit coach
Lawrence Frank said. "Then we started to get some stops, got
energy into the game and obviously Dre had a huge impact the
second half."



Bynum had 18 points and 10 assists for the Pistons, and Greg
Monroe added 20 points and 12 rebounds.



Clark had 17 points for Los Angeles. Nash had 11 points and 10
assists.



Detroit's Rodney Stuckey was called for his third foul in the
first quarter, then picked up a technical to boot. The Pistons
turned the ball over nine times in the half, and they finished
the second quarter with a terrible defensive breakdown. Bryant
was inbounding around midcourt with 0.4 seconds left in the
half, and Clark somehow slipped free for an alley-oop dunk at
the buzzer that gave Los Angeles a 62-51 lead.



The Lakers did a better job defending that situation on the
final play of the game.



NOTES: Knight became tangled with Metta World Peace of the
Lakers with 1:43 left in the first half. That got a rise out of
the crowd, which no doubt remembered World Peace's role in the
infamous "Malice at the Palace" brawl on the Pistons' court in
2004. World Peace was assessed a flagrant foul this time, but
the situation didn't escalate. ... Bryant had five assists,
snapping his streak of five straight games with at least eight.

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