Lakers hold on for tight win

Pau Gasol (right) had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers’ win.
Pau Gasol (right) had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers’ win.

AUBURN HILLS – 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 last night.

“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 defence 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 centre 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.

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.

Willie 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.

Last night’s other scores:Clippers 104, Celtics 106; Heat 100, Raptors 85.†

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