Darvin Ham said he was ready to fall in line.
One game after the Lakers’ biggest star, LeBron James, said “a lot” needed to change in the aftermath of a 44-point loss to Philadelphia, Ham shaved his salt-and-pepper beard into a goatee.
“Yeah man, just following LeBron’s orders,” Ham deadpanned. “Had to change my face. I thought he was talking about my beard.”
The Lakers coach thought a little levity would be the right approach, a potentially problematic situation avoided thanks to a light touch.
Instead of drowning his players with lowlights after the blowout loss to the 76ers, the Lakers coach instead highlighted the positive, trying to send the message that one bad night doesn’t define his team.
Wednesday against the league-worst Pistons (2-16), the Lakers had a chance to swing the pendulum back, and thanks to a great night from D’Angelo Russell, they did so convincingly.
The Lakers (11-8) easily beat Detroit 133-107, the Pistons’ 15th straight loss. Russell scored 35 points to go with nine assists and two blocks. Anthony Davis had 28 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks and James added 25 points and eight rebounds, the stars of the game spending most of the fourth quarter on the bench.
The Lakers have a chance to go 3-1 on their trip with a win Thursday night in Oklahoma City against the Thunder.
The Lakers weren’t tested nearly as much as they were against the 76ers, but the team did play with more energy and force.
Russell set the tone with his aggression early, making all six of his first-quarter shots while having assists on four other field goals. His 35 points were a season high and the most he’s scored as a Laker since March 19, 2017, when he had 40.
Cam Reddish returned after missing three games with a groin injury. And rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino, in his second NBA game, scored 10 points.
While shot-making has held the Lakers back throughout the season, their defensive focus was turned up a notch Wednesday, the team blocking 10 shots.
The Lakers held Detroit to just five second-chance points and 10 transition points, dominating the game from the first quarter through the finish line.