Despite leading for most of the game, the Los Angeles Lakers ultimately suffered a disappointing 111-104 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
It was a solid start for the Lakers, who took an early 9-2 lead after LeBron James streaked down the floor and finished a tough layup through contact. Russell Westbrook started off hot shooting the basketball, hitting two 3-pointers and keeping Los Angeles ahead 15-10.
While almost all of the Pacers’ points came in the paint, the Lakers bench led by Malik Monk and Talen Horton-Tucker found success shooting the basketball to key a 9-0 run. Chris Duarte responded with his own 6-0 spurt, but Los Angeles took a 32-23 lead after one.
Domantas Sabonis and James took turn turns scoring in the paint as they took advantage of their physicality, but another Horton-Tucker triple put the Lakers ahead by 13. Austin Reaves dazzled with a fancy dribble move but made an impact defensively after drawing a couple of charges.
Indiana seemed to find some momentum after switching over to a zone as they went on a quick 5-0 run that forced a timeout from Frank Vogel. Monk was able to find James for a beautiful reverse lob and the Purple and Gold would go into the half up 56-50.
James picked up where he left off in the first half by draining a three to open the third quarter, but Indiana was able to keep pace thanks to Sabonis. Things slowed dramatically as the Lakers went on a scoring drought which allowed the Pacers to tie the game at 64-64 after a pair of Malcolm Brogdon free throws.
Brogdon began to get going as he attacked the teeth of the Los Angeles defense, but Carmelo Anthony was able to answer with a pair of jumpers in the lane. The bench unit infused some much-needed energy and hustle on both ends and the Lakers would take a 80-76 lead into the fourth.
It was a back-and-forth affair with the Lakers and Pacers trading baskets, but the latter managed to tie the game again at 85-85 after Caris LeVert converted an and-one opportunity. LeVert and Sabonis worked in tandem to steal all the momentum from L.A. who suddenly saw themselves staring at an 8-point deficit.
Horton-Tucker was able to stay hot with his jumper, but LeVert and the Pacers had an answer each time down the floor. LeVert simply could not miss from the perimeter and a jumper in the closing minutes, sealing the Lakers’ fate.
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