Updated: November 5, 2012, 12:25 PM ET

1. Laker Apocalypse? Not Now

By J.A. Adande
ESPN.com

LOS ANGELES -- Crisis averted. Employment continued. Order restored.

It's not what the Los Angeles Lakers' 108-79 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night accomplished, it's what it avoided: things such as the franchise's first 0-4 start since 1957-58, widespread panic in the streets of Los Angeles, plus calls to abandon the Princeton offense and fire Mike Brown.

Urgency had come early in Lakerland, even in this place of late-arriving crowds and wake-me-when-the-playoffs-start attitudes. It had even afflicted the coaching staff, as Brown played Kobe Bryant 43 minutes Friday night in a futile attempt to avoid a third loss.

Dwight Howard
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireDwight Howard helped restore order in L.A.

There was even a touch of extra security (like Pee Wee Herman locking his bike) involved Sunday, when Brown sent Bryant and Dwight Howard back in with the Lakers leading by 24 points in the fourth quarter. But ultimately there was no greatness or fear necessary, not with the defenseless, turnover-prone Detroit Pistons in town. The Lakers led comfortably throughout, won their first game of any type (playoff, exhibition or regular season) since May 18, and most of all, exhaled.

The only good thing about Steve Nash's limited role in the offense so far is that it made his absence easier for the Lakers to digest. Nash is out for a least a week with a fractured bone in his leg. The backcourt wasn't the story Sunday night, as the Lakers force-fed the ball inside to Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, and even Metta World Peace joined the action.

The Lakers destroyed the Pistons inside, winning the points in the paint category 56-34. Howard had 28 points on 12-for-14 shooting. World Peace made seven of 11 shots and scored 18 points.

This didn't solve every issue. Howard still misses more free throws than he makes. The opposing reserves still score more than the Lakers' bench (52-27, in this case).

The one thing this did was give the Lakers time. They lowered the volume of the howling, at least temporarily.

"Obviously we needed a win," Brown said. "Dropping three in a row and not winning in the preseason, made it a little tough.

"What it does more than anything else, especially winning the way we did, defending the way we did first of all and playing the way we did offensively with great spacing, great ball movement, scoring out of the system … it gives us a little belief. Every win we get gives you a little bit more belief on both ends of the floor."

It's interesting that he used the word belief. It's a coach's greatest ally. And while there hadn't been calls from inside the locker room to junk the offense, more losses would probably lead to more scenes like Friday night, when Bryant took the offense into his own hands.

Sunday night, Bryant was content to record nearly as many assists as field goal attempts (eight to 10). There was trust from everyone on the court that the ball would end up in the right place if they ran the offense. As a bonus, Bryant got to take it easier on his strained right foot; he didn't don the walking boot he wore Friday night and thought the two days off before the Lakers' next game at Utah would be enough time for him to feel sound again.

So while he felt better physically, nothing changed about his attitude. When the Lakers were winless he told everyone to calm down, and now that they had their first W he isn't about to proclaim them a finished product.

"I think it's more of a relief for Mike than it was for anyone else," he said with a smirk.

The biggest difference for Bryant was instead of irksome questions about the appropriate level of panic he had to deal with queries about his jacket, which seemed a suspiciously Washington Redskins shade of burgundy for an avowed Philadelphia Eagles fan to be wearing.

The Pistons, meanwhile, look as woeful as the Kansas City Chiefs. But the Lakers are in no position to be graded on a curve based on the caliber of competition. On opening night they couldn't beat a Dallas Mavericks squad that took the court without Dirk Nowitzki, and started a center (Eddy Curry) whom they released a couple of days later. Throughout the preseason they couldn't take control against anyone the way they did Sunday.

"What I liked was the start of the game," Gasol said. "We set the tone early, we imposed ourselves and established ourselves, and that helped a lot."

A victory always helps, too.


Dimes past: Oct. 30 | 31 | Nov. 1 | 2-3

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