Davis the star host as Lakers celebrate block party

LOS ANGELES • After Dwight Howard blocked Andre Drummond's shot with a perfect combination of timing and athleticism, he wagged a finger at the uproarious Staples Centre crowd.

It was one of five blocks on the night for the centre as the Los Angeles Lakers swatted away everything in sight en route to beating the Detroit Pistons 106-99 on Sunday.

LeBron James had 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for his ninth triple-double of the season, and Anthony Davis had eight of the hosts' 20 blocked shots. It was their fifth successive National Basketball Association win, improving to 29-7.

By the time the Lakers' three big men, including JaVale McGee, who had six rejections, were done, they had blocked more shots than any team since March 2001. They were also just one shy of their 1982 franchise record.

"We were just protecting the paint," said Davis, who contributed a team-high 24 points.

"Last game (against New Orleans), we gave up (68) points in the paint.

"It's something we don't like doing, and we tried to make an emphasis tonight on protecting the paint."

On the stellar defensive showing, James said: "It's a remarkable feat. Dwight, JaVale and AD, they make it easy on us, and we try to contain a lot of these small quick guards and these rim attackers."

Howard, who swatted Drummond's efforts twice in the final quarter, enjoyed playing to the fans.

"I was just in the moment, trying to get the crowd going," he said.

"Detroit had hit some big shots, and we needed a lift. AD, he inspired me to want to go out there and try to get as many as I can."

Despite a strong effort against the Western Conference leaders, the Pistons (13-24) fell to a ninth defeat in 11 games. But Derrick Rose, who paced his team with a game-high 28 points, insisted there was no shame in losing to one of the championship favourites.

"There's a reason they're the No. 1 team in the league blocking shots (with an average of 7.4 per game)," he said. "They've got great length, but it's not going to change the way we play our game. We've got a chance to learn from our mistakes."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2020, with the headline 'Davis the star host as Lakers celebrate block party'. Print Edition | Subscribe