The Los Angeles Lakers opened up the second half of their season by hosting the Indiana Pacers on Friday night, beginning a very tough stretch of games without Anthony Davis.
After closing out the first half with seven losses in their final 10 games, the Lakers could really use a win in this one and were able to hang on for a 105-100 victory.
Defense ruled the first few minutes of play, as the Lakers and Pacers shot just 33.3% from the field combined. A LeBron James sky hook highlighted an opening 6-2 run from L.A., but the Pacers tied it at six with 7:27 to go.
Malcolm Brogdon had perhaps the best first quarters of his career, scoring 18 of the Pacers first 24 points. The Lakers managed to keep it close, largely with James on the bench. However, they trailed at the end of one, 28-20.
The beginning of the second quarter belonged entirely to the Lakers. Back-to-back three-point plays from Wesley Matthews and James helped to close the gap. From there, incredible defense led to some offensive rhythm, and by the 9:55 mark the Lakers held a 31-28 lead after an 11-0 run.
That Lakers lead came at a bittersweet moment as Alex Caruso hit his head on the court while trying to save a loose ball. He was removed from the game and went directly to the locker room, eventually being ruled out with a head contusion.
A 10-2 run by the Pacers led by T.J. McConnell allowed them to regain control of things. They held a 38-33 lead with 6:55 to go in the first half.
The Lakers’ offensive attack was abysmal throughout the second quarter, suffering multiple field goal droughts of over three minutes. However, they were able to get to the free-throw line at will, and their defensive intensity was consistent. At the half, the Pacers led 54-46.
To start the second half, the Pacers worked their lead to a game-high 11, although the Lakers put together multiple solid possessions to cut the gap to just three at 57-54. This included a shot disruption and a dunk for Damian Jones.
The Pacers were once again able to combat a Lakers run with one of their own. They kept pace ahead of the Lakers for the remainder of the third, and went into the final quarter with 79-71 lead.
Much like the third and second quarter, the Lakers began the final frame with some momentum. Rather than forcing things in the half-court game, L.A. was able to get out in transition to cut the deficit. With 7:49 to go, the Lakers trailed 88-86.
The next three minutes were dominated by Kyle Kuzma, who exploded for 10 points out of 12 during that stretch. This helped boost the Lakers ahead for one of their largest leads of the night, 98-93. Not only was he making an impact in the scoring department, but he was also huge on the glass on both ends of the floor.
While the Pacers got within three with just under two minutes remaining, Montrezl Harrell responded with a big three-point play to make the lead a little more comfortable.
The Pacers got within three and had a chance to tie it late, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came up with a huge steal to put the game on ice.
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