The Pacers arrived ready to play, coming out with plenty of energy and defensive effort in the first quarter. But while the Pacers had the pedal to the metal, the Lakers appeared to be cruising along in third gear, biding their time before revving things up.
After the great first quarter effort yielded a meager one point lead for the Pacers, it figured to be a tough night. And it was.
The Lakers out-scored the Pacers 71-43 in the second and third quarters including a 36-10 run to finish the third quarter. That run went up to 41-10 eventually as the Lakers ran over the Pacers at full throttle and then zoomed out of sight. Crazy as it sounds, the Pacers were only down one (62-61) with nine minutes left in the third quarter and in the blink of an eye the Laker lead jumped to 20...then 30.
Then it became a laugher.
After the jump, a plenty of notes, mostly from the first half when the game was a pretty good watch.
- The Indiana Pacers only had 10 players available to take on the powerful Los Angeles Lakers. Solo Jones was suspended and Luther Head was in Chicago dealing with some personal family issues. That left the Pacers woefully thin in the front court against the Lakers long and active depth.
- Danny Granger struggled big time, with old friend Ron Artest giving him fits. Granger only made two shots and had four turnovers to finish the night with 9 points.
- The Pacers used eight of those available players in the first quarter and delivered a solid overall effort. Big efforts from Brandon Rush and Josh McRobert showed how ready the team was to get this road trip started. Just not enough to sustain for the whole game against the Lakers.
- Pacers defense was strong early, although Roy Hibbert caught a couple of whistles that sent him to the bench. The Lakers didn't score a FG until there was 6:20 left in the first quarter, but with the fouls going their way, free throws kept the game close. Hibbert would battle foul trouble the rest of the night as he was dinged with a couple of weak fouls in the post. Wouldn't be so bad if the bumps Roy absorbed brought the same whistles.
- Brandon Rush jump-started the Pacers with a pair of 3-pointers. He also played some solid defense on Kobe and then added a highlight by chasing down an open court layup by Derek Fisher to send it back the other way ala LeBron James. Danny Granger cashed in the hustle with a 3-ball at the other end. Rush's game flattened out a bit with the rest of the team in the second half, but his effort staying with Kobe may intrigue some Western Conference teams looking for some depth to throw at Kobe next year.
- Danny Granger and Kobe Bryant both started the game 1-6 from the field. For much of the first half, the duo were outscored by Josh McRoberts and Adam Morrison. McRoberts scored a career-high 15points and showed his usual extra effort while being physically out-manned by the Lakers front court. Morrison played some rare early minutes and scored four quick points which was another indication that the Pacers were in trouble.
- McRoberts had a break-away dunk in the first half with Kobe lurking around the rim. Bryant decided against challenging McRoberts since momentum favored Josh. Later in the game the tables were turned but McRoberts didn't mind risking his mug landing on a poster. Kobe took exception, but McRoberts was able to ground the dunk attempt and make Bryant earn the points at the line.
- Kobe Bryant appeared pretty quiet through much of the first half, making only two field goals. But he did make all 10 of his free throw attempts and finished with a flourish, scoring 4 points in 4.2 seconds after a T.J. Ford turnover gave him the chance and Kobe cashed it in. Bryant kept rolling in the third until the Lakers seized control of the game which didn't take long and finished with 24 points.
- T.J. Ford flashed some great play off the bench in the second quarter, but also flashed some ugly play when the game slipped away in the second half. Mark Boyle and Slick Leonard really took him to task for his weak effort when the Pacers were down 30. He appeared to slip into the mode of being too cool to play hard with the game out of hand. Along with the weak effort, Ford was joking around with some Laker players.
- A.J. Price only played the final six minutes of the blow out, despite Ford's second-half exploits. Maybe this will spur some more minutes for the rookie.
- Pacers had 22 points off the bench in the first half. The Lakers had 34 points in the paint (56 for the game) although it seemed like Pau Gasol had all of those on his own. It would've been interesting to see how many times in a row the Lakers could've scored a layup/dunk by continually going to Gasol or Andrew Bynum.
- Golden State, Detroit and Sacramento all lost tonight, so the sad truth is that the Pacers kept pace in the lottery lay down.