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 3½ 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.
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