IC Cold Links: Pacers Make Kobe Work, Lakers Assess Their Problems

Danny Grangers exhales and enjoys the moment after the Pacers closed out the Lakers last night.

Now this is a trend I can get used to.

The Indiana Pacers take down one of the NBA's elite teams on the road and all of the focus turns to the flaws of the elite team. Nevermind that team in blue and gold making it happen on the other side.

The Pacers took it to the Lakers last night and earned that W by out-playing the defending champs. Along the way, thanks to Roy Hibbert, the Pacers exposed the soft middle that the Lakers are playing with while they await Andrew Bynum's return. Pardon me if I don't shed a tear because the Lakers trotted out plenty of talent last night and were simply beaten.

That's cool, though. I don't expect anyone to think the Pacers are an elite team, nor do I think they are. But with their defensive efficiency moving around one point per 100 possessions, the Pacers defense is hanging out in elite company.

Kobe Bryant scored his 41, but it wasn't easy. He needed 33 shots to get it done which is the most field goal attempts for any of the nine 40-point games logged in the NBA this year. That stands in contrast with the nutty night Russell Westbrook threw at the Pacers in which he scored 43 points on only 24 FGAs.

I also get the sense that the Pacers are starting to believe in themselves and what they can do defensively. The confidence and results continue to feed each other as both grow in impressive fashion. My confidence remains day-to-day, though, so I can't wait to see if they can back up this win with a similar effort in Sacramento on Tuesday after celebrating this win in Hollywood.

After the jump, plenty of links with stories about the Pacers' win or in most cases, the Lakers' loss. Also includes a sweet look at Roy Hibbert's dunk late in the game to put the Pacers up by the winning margin.

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