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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Los Angeles (AFP) – The Los Angeles Lakers capped an encouraging weekend with a much-needed NBA win, using a 16-0 second-half scoring run to down Detroit 114-99.

The struggling Lakers had dropped two straight and four of their last five going into the contest.

They were buoyed on Saturday by superstar Kobe Bryant’s return to practice for the first time since he tore his left Achilles tendon on April 12.

After Bryant took part in some shooting drills, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni found himself fielding questions as to Bryant’s expected return.

The coach said it was too soon to say.

“I know why there’s anticipation, but it’s too early,” D’Antoni said.

Bryant, who recently said he was stepping up his fitness training, discussed his progress with sharpening his on-court skills in an interview for NBA TV.

“The fadeaway still works, the ball-handling and being able to post,” he said. “Those are things that I can do right now.”

But with the time frame for his return to competition still uncertain, Sunday’s performance was welcome evidence the Lakers can find ways to win without him.

Jordan Hill had 24 points and 17 rebounds. Steve Blake handed out 16 assists, while Nick Young and Jodie Meeks scored 19 points each.

The Lakers engineered a 16-0 scoring run spanning the third and fourth quarters, holding the Pistons without a basket for more than five minutes.

“We got ourselves in a hole and couldn’t get out,” Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks said.

Brandon Jennings scored 23 points with 14 assists, while Andre Drummond added 14 points and 13 rebounds for Detroit, who have lost five of their last six games.

Rodney Stuckey’s layup gave the Pistons a 71-69 lead before the Lakers exploded.

Young launched the run with a brace of three-pointers and Hill capped it with two baskets that gave Los Angeles an 85-71 lead with 10:35 remaining.

“Once we got the energy going, the shots started falling,” Young said.

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