In the end, Los Angeles came up just short against a game Indiana Pacers team.
Despite great contributions from the bench, the Lakers fell to the Pacers 105-102, snapping their 14-game road win streak. James flirted with another triple-double finishing with 20 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists and the Lakers got 53 points from their bench led by Dwight Howard‘s 20.
The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth affair that saw the Lakers fight back from a rough third quarter to take a lead. Unfortunately, their problems at the free throw line reared their heads at the worst time as James and Howard’s inability to knock them down allowed Indiana to remain in striking distance.
James had a chance to tie the game or take the lead, but missed a three and what was believed to be a great save by Rajon Rondo was overturned upon review. The Lakers had one last chance to tie it after Sabonis split a pair of free throws but Rondo just missed a three.
Down both Davis and Kuzma, the Lakers were extremely small, but players stepped up in their absence. Rondo had seven points and seven assists, JaVale McGee had eight rebounds and three blocks, and both Avery Bradley and Alex Caruso delivered double-digit points off the bench, but it just wasn’t enough.
Things got off to a great start for the Lakers as their defense was locked in from the jump. James scored nine points in the first quarter and McGee challenged everything at the rim. Howard and Rondo kept things running in the second, but less than stellar endings to the first two quarters saw the Lakers have just a two-point lead at halftime.
Indiana began to take control in the third quarter, grabbing their first lead of the night and pulling ahead by as many as nine points. Some huge threes by Jared Dudley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope kept the Lakers alive and head coach Frank Vogel employed a four-guard lineup in the wake of the team’s frontcourt injuries that played well together and gave them a chance heading into the final period.
The Lakers have a huge showdown next up, facing reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks who sport the same record as Los Angeles.