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Lakers 109, Pacers 94: Indiana Punished by Ghost of Victories Past

Not to be outdone yet again by the Pacers, the Los Angeles Lakers entered Conseco Fieldhouse with the intention of putting the hammer down early and often. The Lakers did just that, making eight of their first nine shots to build a 15-4 lead. It was an eerily similar start to Monday’s debacle, but the Pacers weren’t able to get much going. The Lakers shot 74% in the first quarter and Pau Gasol made up for his lackluster effort against Roy Hibbert by pouring 14 points in the first quarter as Ron Artest helped make it all but over early.

Very little went right for the Pacers in the first quarter, but the Pacers began to make their push once again when the bench entered the game. The starters struggled heavily against a motivated Lakers team, at one point missing ten straight shots, en route to a 22-point halftime deficit, and were outrebounded by 17 in the first half.

Tyler Hansbrough got the second half start, and coincidentally or not, the energy showed up as the Pacers began practicing ball movement, getting shots to fall, and playing all around better ball. It felt like the Pacers were pushing a monumental comeback, except Kobe Bryant was on the other end, making sure each shot kept the Lakers above 20 points. Kobe was merciless in the third quarter, capping a 17-point clinic to keep the Lakers out of reach despite the Pacers third quarter play.

Brandon Rush had a strong spark to end the third to get the Pacers within 16, but Shannon Brown and the Lakers bench proved to be too much for the Pacers to spark any kind of comeback. The Pacers rebounding woes continued; they were dominated on both sides of the glass. Granted, Indiana shot under 40% in the first half and the Lakers shot well above 50% all night, but lack of second chance shots for Indiana didn’t help keep them any closer than twenty.

The Pacers allowed their opponent over 50% for just the fifth time this year, but only the second time in a loss. Indiana won the turnover battle, which is a bigger deal than it seems, considering the Pacers committed a few turnovers in the start of the game. Unfortunately it didn’t matter in the final outcome of the game, but it’s something to build upon.

After the jump, the Lakers wax the Pacers:

  • Kobe Bryant was electric tonight, but maybe we can thank him for going off, since the Pacers only looked interested when they were responding to whatever circus shot he was taking tonight. Lamar Odom had 17 rebounds, just eleven shy of Indiana’s 28 for the entire game.
  • Tyler Hansbrough got some more action tonight, but only the first five minutes of the third quarter before ending the game. He ended the night with 4 points and 2 rebounds, but tried to get the team fired up with a little jawing match with Odom in his third quarter action. There wasn’t nearly enough of Hansbrough doing what Hansbrough does, especially when the team needed some hustle inside.
  • Brandon Rush tried his best in the second half to get the Pacers back into the game, but Kobe Bryant and the Lakers offense wasn’t being denied. Rush finished with 16 points. It’s hard to fault his defense on Kobe, which wasn’t great, but certainly workable, the end result helped speak for itself, however.
  • Roy Hibbert struggled again tonight, before finally getting some momentum going in the second half. The big fella was no match for Pau Gasol tonight, who was hell bent on not letting Hibbert embarrass him a second time.
  • Danny Granger has really struggled as of late. He finished with just 13 points, on 5-13 shooting. He’s had one good shooting game this month since setting his season high at 37 against Sacramento. But players of his level are typically able to put poor nights behind them by getting to the line, but Granger only made one trip all night.

The Pacers have dropped three straight and two games below .500 for the first time all year. It’s not panic time yet, but given the effort the team has put forth these last three games, it sure feels like we should have our finger on the switch, given the recent efforts in the team’s losses. Indiana drops to 2-6 in December, and has done so with really poor offensive outings. The Pacers haven’t broken the century mark in any of the six losses.

Fortunately, the Pacers get a chance to tend to their wounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers come to town on Friday. It’s important they come out and push the Cavs around the way they’ve done so far this season. There’s a lot of negative things happening right now, but the Pacers aren’t out of it by any means. Here’s to hoping they can get the ship righted, starting with the Cavaliers.