The Los Angeles Lakers will begin a brief two game road trip before the All-Star break against the Indiana Pacers tonight. The Pacers are currently sitting in the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, but they are looking to improve their seed as the All-Star break approaches.
Roy Hibbert will be missing his homecoming game in Indiana due to an ankle injury and Robert Sacre will be starting in his place. Many expected Tarik Black to get the nod as the starting center, but Head Coach Byron Scott prefers Black’s energy in the second unit. This will be Kobe Bryant’s final trip to Indiana, where he one broke the hearts of Pacers fans in the 2000 NBA Finals.
On the first possession of the game Ian Mahinmi caught an elbow in his face from Lou Williams and headed to the locker room as blood rushed from his forehead. Julius Randle started the game in a good rhythm from midrange, but Paul George finished a strong dunk on the break to give them an early three point lead. The Pacers managed to get an offensive rebound off of a missed free throw, which lead to a wide open three-pointer from George and the Lakers trailed 11-17 with 6:01 remaining in the first quarter. Randle made a contested shot in the lane with his right hand, then D’Angelo Russell intercepted a pass and made a short corner jumper to cut the Lakers deficit to three points. Russell found Brandon Bass with a bounce pass who then finished with a strong dunk at the rim. Anthony Brown followed up with a three-pointer to cap off an 11-3 Lakers run and gave them their first lead of the game. The Lakers shot a miserable 33 percent from the field but only trailed the Pacers 22-23 after the first quarter.
The Lakers continued to miss from the field, but Williams drew a foul and made three free throws to give the Lakers the lead a few minutes into the second quarter. After a Pacers missed field goal, Russell delivered a gorgeous one handed bounce pass the length of the floor and Kobe laid it in to tie the game at 27. Robert Sacre picked up his third foul and the Pacers jumped out to a five point lead midway through the second quarter. The Lakers had a hard time taking care of the ball and the Pacers extended their lead to double figures with a 16-2 run. Kobe finally made his first three-pointer of the game after pump faking Paul George out of position to end the Lakers two and a half minute drought from the field. After a poor shooting first half, the Lakers trailed the Pacers 38-46.
Julius Randle found Williams on a tough back door pass, who missed the layup but rebounded his miss and eventually scored in the paint for the Lakers first points of the half. The Lakers then turned it over for the 12th time and the Pacers extended their lead to 17 points with 8:51 remaining in the third. Lou Williams finally stopped the bleeding at the free throw line and the Lakers trailed 47-60 with 5:38 left in the third quarter. Russell snatched his third steal of the game, which led to two Lakers points from the free throw line, but the Lakers still trailed by 15 with three minutes remaining in the third. D’Angelo Russell cut the Lakers deficit down to seven points after finishing the break with a right-handed layup plus the foul to give him 10 points in the game. Jordan Clarkson knocked down a pull up jumper to cap off a 12-0 Lakers run and after the third quarter the Lakers trailed 59-64.
The Pacers scored the first four points of the quarter, but Tarik Black had a tenacious block on Glenn Robinson III and the Lakers realized by six points with 9:10 remaining in the game. With the momentum seemingly swinging in the Pacers’ favor, Russell made a pull up jumper to cut the Lakers deficit to just five points with 6:07 left in regulation. Russell then followed up his jumper with a post fadeaway plus the foul and the Lakers trailed by just four points. The Lakers stepped up the defensive intensity and Kobe scored 11 straight points, including three three-pointers, and the Lakers led 82-79 with 2:30 to remaining in the game. The Lakers extended their lead to four after Brandon Bass followed up Kobe’s miss, and the Pacers had the ball with 1:11 to play. Clarkson fouled Paul George on a three-point attempt and he converted all three free throws to cut the Lakers lead to one. After a Kobe miss, Paul George made a strong move to the rim and converted a three-point play and the Lakers trailed by two with 38.3 left in play. Kobe missed what would have been a go-ahead three-pointer and the Lakers had to foul intentionally to stop the clock. Monta Ellis made two free throws to seal the game to give the Lakers their second straight loss. Randle made a pointless three at the buzzer. Final score: Lakers 87 Pacers 89.