The Los Angeles Lakers’ 14-game winning streak finally came to an end as they were defeated by the Indiana Pacers, 105-102.
The Lakers were undermanned with Anthony Davis out of the starting lineup due to an ankle injury and his presence on the defensive end was sorely missed as the Pacers were able to get to the rim on several occasions for easy dunks and layups. Domantas Sabonis proved to be too much for Los Angeles as he recorded a double-double (26 points and 10 rebounds), leading the way for Indiana on both ends.
LeBron James narrowly missed out on a triple-double (20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists), but noticeably ran out of gas down the stretch as he tried to carry the offense without Davis. However, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard combined for 30 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks.
When asked if he was impressed with his team’s effort, head coach Frank Vogel had nothing but praise for their performance, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Absolutely. When you got a talented group playing scrappy basketball with great effort, you got a chance to win every night. This is a great basketball team we’re playing against tonight in their building… 11-3… shorthanded, our guys competed their tails off and very proud of them.”
The Lakers actually led for the entirety of the first half as they were able to limit the Pacers to one possession on offense while also forcing a few turnovers they were able to cash in on in transition. However, their offense in the third quarter bogged down and Indiana was able to go on a run that gave them the lead and momentum.
Although the Pacers took control of the game, the Lakers — particularly the bench — responded by making plays on both ends that helped them get back into it. Howard and Alex Caruso provided major sparks as the two were able to pick up some of the scoring slack and key a couple of runs that pushed the contest all the way down to the wire.
Ultimately, the purple and gold fell short in the fourth quarter due to missed free throws as James and Howard both missed on a pair that would have helped keep Indiana at bay.
While the loss is disappointing, the fact that they were able to come back from yet another late-game deficit without Davis is impressive and bodes well for their success going forward. It will be interesting to see how they respond as they take on perhaps their biggest test to date in the Milwaukee Bucks.