It has been almost 17 years since any TV network deigned a regular-season National Basketball Assn. game worthy of prime-time exposure. The Lakers will get just that tonight when they meet the Detroit Pistons at the Palace, the Pistons’ new arena in this Detroit suburb.
The game will be televised by CBS, beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is expected to play tonight after he skipped Wednesday’s 138-91 victory over the Miami Heat, was a member of the Milwaukee Bucks when ABC televised the Bucks-Knicks game in prime time Jan. 3, 1972.
The Lakers and Pistons, of course, became living-room regulars last June when they met in the NBA finals, which had more than a mini-series’ share of suspense, romance, and plot twists--or has everybody forgotten the kisses of Magic Johnson and the crutches of Isiah Thomas?
All the central figures should be healthy for this one, with the possible exception of Detroit backup center James Edwards, who is questionable with a sprained left ankle. Adrian Dantley has played in the Pistons’ last two games after he sat out a couple when an elbow by Dallas’ Mark Aguirre left him with a fractured upper jaw and 12 stitches.
The Pistons roared out to an 8-0 start but have lost 2 of their last 3, including a 133-111 rout at home Wednesday night against the Knicks. The Lakers won both regular-season meetings between the teams last season, 106-104 at the Silverdome and 117-110 at the Forum.
“We can’t allow them to come in our house and beat us, not only in front of our crowd but a national television audience,” Thomas said earlier in the week.
The Lakers, who have won the first two games of this four-game trip, go from here to Philadelphia for a game Monday night.