The Indiana Pacers wanted to keep using that somewhat successful and always entertaining small-ball lineup again Wednesday night. Starting with three guards (Earl Watson, Brandon Rush, Dahntay Jones), Danny Granger and Troy Murphy, the Pacers were hoping the small prowess and quickness could undermine the authoratative and powerful approach of the big-time Los Angeles Lakers lineup.
But after the Lakers rolled through their first 10 points off of lay-ups in the first quarter, the small-ball Pacers were in for a long night. Eventually, the Pacers' defense looked like Wal-Mart on Black Friday -- all lanes were open. As former Pacer Austin Croshere tweeted during the game, even when the Pacers tried frantically to go big, it was still not enough. Croshere wrote "Lakers are probably longest team in NBA. Even with our 'big' lineup, we look small."
The result was a Lakers 54-32 post scoring advantage, a Lakers 62-42 rebounding lead, a 30-14 free-throw attempt edge en route to a 118-96 Pacers loss.
The Lakers rebounding total of 62 is a season-high for the squad. The post presence of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol ruled the paint as they continually had stations set up inside the block waiting on entry passes from the perimeter. They were helped by continued pressure from Kobe Bryant's driving abilities, and the Big Three proved to be a lethal combination. While former Pacers player Ron Artest was as quiet in a mouse in a return to the Fieldhouse (two points, two rebounds in nearly 24 minutes), the other three made up for it.
Bryant scored 29 points, had nine rebounds and seven assists, while Bynum added a season-high 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Gasol contributed 21 points, 13 rebounds and Lamar Odom added 12 points and 14 boards for the Lakers.
Check out the jump for info on the game.
Rush and Jones did their best to contain Bryant (an almost impossible task, but one that Jones prided himself on when he joined the blue and gold this summer, yet didn't seem so successful at tonight), but their task paled in comparison to what Murphy and backup Roy Hibbert had to do in the post. Hibbert, who started the second half, was a bright spot on offense (21 points), but he and Murphy combined for only 11 rebounds, matching Brandon Rush's team-high total.
The Pacers hung in the game through halftime when Odom hit a haltime buzzer beater to give L.A. a 59-56 intermission lead. But at the start of the third quarter, Derek Fisher made a 3-point play in the first minute, followed by the Kobe Show officially beginning. He scored 13 of his final total in the quarter as the Lakers had an 11-point lead in the quarter.
Indiana cut the Lakers lead to nine with 9:45 remaining in the game, but the Lakers rolled off a 10-2 run that put the game out of reach. The Pacers shot just 35 percent in the fourth quarter.
Murphy scored 18, Danny Granger had 14 and Brandon Rush added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers.
- The Lakers had 16 of the their 31 first-quarter points come off of lay-ups, including the first 10 points of the game. Bynum dominated from the opening gate as he dropped 10 points in the first four minutes and he had 22 points by halftime. Here was the Lakers box score in the opening minutes (taken from Silver Screen and Roll)
Starters Min FG 3Pt FT +/- Off Reb Ast TO Stl BS BA PF Pts
K. Bryant G 4:25 3-3 0-0 0-0 +10 1 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 6
D. Fisher G 4:25 0-0 0-0 0-0 +10 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
A. Bynum C 4:25 4-4 0-0 2-2 +10 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 10
R. Artest F 4:25 1-2 0-1 0-0 +10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
P. Gasol F 4:25 0-1 0-0 0-0 +10 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
- Conseco "Reggie Miller" Fieldhouse sold out for the fourth time this season, and I write "sold out", I literally and figuratively mean it. For most of the game, the large Lakers contingent spent the evening shouting M-V-P for their savior when he went to the free-throw line, swished another picture-perfect jumper or just breathed on the sidelines. By the end of the game, when most Pacers fans were strolling to their cars, the Lakers fans stayed and were annoyingly loud for their team.
- When the fans at Conseco weren't cheering on Kobe, they were screaming for the Indianapolis Colts players that made appearances in the arena. Colts players Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Matt Stover received a standing ovation when they were announced before the sellout crowd.