When the Lakers faced the Pacers in Indianapolis back on December 15, the former found itself down 39 points to the latter in the first half. They were able to make a run in the second half, but could never get close enough to truly threaten the Pacers before the lead was extended back out. Los Angeles came out flat on the second night of a back-to-back in their first meeting, but will be coming off a day of rest heading into this contest. Indiana will be seeking their third straight win after winning in Milwaukee on Friday.
Frontcourt: Roy Hibbert anchors the Indiana defense with his 7’2″ frame, blocking two shots per game so far this season. Hibbert was relatively quiet in the first game against the Lakers, tallying 10 points and seven rebounds in just 21 minutes of action. Look for him to be more aggressive this time around, trying to take advantage of a smaller opponent in Jordan Hill or Ed Davis.
David West is a tough, physical presence and one of the veteran leaders of the Pacers. After missing the first 15 games of the season, West has had time to get back into the flow of an NBA season and has been solid thus far, averaging 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 28.4 minutes per game. Expect West to crash the boards on both ends and exhibit his strength, as well as stepping out for some open midrange jumpers on offense.
Solomon Hill had an excellent month of November, surprising many people as he fills in for the injured Paul George in just his second year. However, since the start of December, the 23-year-old has slowed down a bit, averaging just over eight points a night since December 2.
Backcourt: The biggest thorn in the Lakers’ side in their first matchup was Rodney Stuckey, who nearly recorded a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, all in only 29 minutes of play. Stuckey’s numbers are down this season, with the exception of his three point shooting, which is up by eight percent. The Lakers can’t let him stuff the stat sheet again if they want to earn a split of the season series with Indiana.
Another player Los Angeles had issues defending was Donald Sloan. He knocked down seven of his twelve shots en route to 17 points while grabbing six boards. His production has increased this season with an expanded role due to George Hill dealing with a number of injuries. Sloan has a stat line this season of 10 points, 4.5 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 27.5 minutes a game.
Keys to Victory:
Look for Open Threes: Coach Byron Scott doesn’t believe in shooting threes at a high rate, but the Lakers average more made and attempted shots from deep in their wins than they do in losses. Obviously, they can’t be forced attempts, but if they are able to operate offensively with proper floor spacing and ball movement, it should create open opportunities for a team that has several capable (not great, but capable) perimeter shooters.
No Pacer Bench Superstars: In the first matchup, multiple Pacer players had performances that exceeded their usual output, leading to a blowout loss for the Lakers. They need to do a better job of keeping role players in check. In order to do so, a strong defensive effort must be put forth, with a much higher intensity this time around.
Energy From the Tip: Los Angeles was extremely sluggish the last time these two teams met, having played the previous night. The result was an insurmountable deficit and an embarrassing loss in the end. There is no excuse for that to happen again, considering the team was off yesterday, and they will be playing at home this time. If the Lakers are able to out-work Indiana from the start, they should find themselves in a position to earn a victory.
Los Angeles Lakers (10-23) Vs. Indiana Pacers (13-21)
6:30 PM PST, January 4, 2015
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
Pacers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Donald Sloan
SG: Rodney Stuckey
SF: Solomon Hill
PF: David West
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: SG: C.J. Miles, PF: Lavoy Allen, PF: Luis Scola
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Ronnie Price
SG: Kobe Bryant
SF: Wesley Johnson
PF: Ed Davis
C: Jordan Hill
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