The Los Angeles Lakers finally got LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Dennis Schroder back, making them the healthiest they’ve been in months. And while it wasn’t always pretty, the Lakers stayed alive in the race to avoid the play-in tournament with a 122-115 win over the Pacers.
The Lakers’ offense had some bumps early on, but it also featured some highlight plays. LeBron James was involved in three lobs in the opening minutes, two on the passing end to Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond and one on the receiving end from Dennis Schroder. The Lakers led the Pacers 15-11 at the 6:47 mark.
Once James was removed from the game at around the five-minute mark, it was Davis’ turn to shine. He scored 13 of his 17 first-quarter points with James off the court, and it gave the Lakers a chance to extend their lead. After one, it was 36-28 in favor of L.A.
The Lakers had an opportunity at the beginning of the second quarter to extend their lead further and put the game out of reach early. However, Pacers forward JaKarr Sampson had other ideas. He had six of the Pacers first eight points in the second, closing the Lakers lead to 40-36 with 9:07 to go in the half.
The Lakers quickly extended their lead to 11 behind Talen Horton-Tucker and the Lakers bench unit. However, Caris LeVert ensured the Pacers wouldn’t go away that easily. He scored eight consecutive points to make it 49-46.
Once again, the Lakers did their best to get their lead up to double digits only for the Pacers to make life difficult for them. However, James and Davis showed their dominance at the end of the half with a couple of good sequences to make it 64-56 at the break.
The Lakers big three of James, Davis and Schroder took the game over at the start of the second half, but they continued to struggle to keep their distance from the Pacers. Despite the three scoring 14 points in the first five minutes of the quarter, the Pacers one-upped them by scoring 16 in the same frame. With 6:49 to go in the third, it was 78-72.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope turned a six-point lead to 11 with a quick sequence, including a three, a steal and a layup. This forced a Pacers timeout as they would once again need to claw their way back to stay alive in the game.
He would continue his excellent third quarter with a couple more scores and a pretty assist to Drummond. By the time the third came to an end, however, their lead was the same as their halftime advantage. The Lakers led 96-88 going into the final frame.
The fourth quarter started with Kyle Kuzma — who had taken just one shot in the first three quarters — draining back-to-back field goals. With 10:03 remaining the fourth, the Lakers appeared to be taking control, holding a 104-90 lead.
Just like each and every other time the Lakers started to pull away, the Pacers kept crawling back. By the 3:50 mark, the Lakers lead was cut down to just five at 111-106. This is thanks to a 10-1 run that lasted over four minutes, forcing a Lakers timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Pacers were the first to score to make it a one possession game. At this point, James opted to take over the game and put things out of reach for the Pacers. He scored eight consecutive points, ultimately giving L.A. a seven-point win to bring them to 41-30 ahead of the last game of the season.
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