With Anthony Davis out due to illness and facing another double-digit deficit, the pressure was on LeBron James to carry the Los Angeles Lakers to victory on Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers. Thankfully for the Lakers, LeBron is still more than capable of doing that even in his 19th season.
James scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, busting out a couple of classic celebrations along the way, and the Lakers ended their five-game road trip on a high note with a 124-116 victory over the Pacers. The Lakers went 2-3 on the road trip and now sit at .500 on the season with a record of 10-10.
It was truly a game of runs as the Lakers continually fought back in the game, only for the Pacers to push the lead back to double-digits. A Malik Monk 3-pointer finally gave the Lakers their first lead of the night with 4:35 remaining and a LeBron three with under two minutes left seemingly sealed the Lakers’ victory in regulation.
However, Pacers rookie Chris Duarte hit an unbelievable three to send the game to an extra session where James took over.
Back-to-back threes and another ridiculous midrange fadeaway were enough to seal the deal and allow the Lakers to head home on a high note. But LeBron was far from alone in getting the Lakers over the hump and back in the win column.
The bench was outstanding, led by Monk with 17 points and a season-high eight rebounds as everyone chipped in on the glass with Frank Vogel turning to a small lineup with James at center. Wayne Ellington added 14 points and hit three of his four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter while Carmelo Anthony also added 14 and Dwight Howard nearly posted a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds.
Russell Westbrook didn’t shoot the ball well from the field but was outstanding from the free-throw line, hitting 9-of-11 on his way to 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
The key for the Lakers on this night was their defense in the second half. After allowing 66 points in the first 24 minutes, Vogel’s team looked much more like the team of the previous two seasons, giving up just 50 in the second half, including overtime. They were also able to play the Pacers even on the glass at 52 rebounds each despite going small for most of the fourth quarter and OT thanks to the efforts of Monk, Westbrook and Ellington.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers return to Staples Center to host the struggling Sacramento Kings on Friday night followed by a return match with the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.
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