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IC Cold Links: Lakers Push Pacers' Backs Against The Wall

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After mixing and matching good play with poor, wins with losses through the first quarter of the season, the Indiana Pacers have now lost three games in a row and appeared to have the fight sucked out of them last night by the Los Angeles Lakers.

I had the good fortune to miss this game live, instead enjoying a wonderful holiday music program which included my Third Grader and Kindergartner. Watching the game after the fact gave me a different perspective with no expectations to cloud my eyes.

What I saw was a Lakers team that was on point, with Pau Gasol dominating the action in the first half and then Kobe Bryant taking over to wow the crowd in the third quarter. Don't get me wrong, the Pacers weren't locking anyone down defensively, but Kobe hit some insane jumpers in the face of his defenders. He even ensured fans got their fill by coming out for an encore in the fourth quarter and just seeing how deep he could take his range.

The Pacers have no answer the for the Lakers team that showed up last night. All they can do is give it their best effort and keep fighting. That was the discouraging part of watching after the fact. It was easy to see the effort wane, and the home team succumb to their fate without much fight.

I actually like the way Darren Collison attacked the game, an improvement of past performances. It was nice to see Tyler Hansbrough get a chance to add some effort to the inevitable in the second half. But the return of "the sulk" from Danny Granger was not good to see. When Granger gets frustrated and beat down his body language shows it and it's almost as if he goes into a cocoon, trying to make something happen on his own instead of spreading his wings and imploring his teammates to go down swinging along his side.

So now the Pacers face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday with their backs against the wall. They've responded well in these types of games so far this season, but the vibe around the team is different. There's been slippage. Everyone seems to think it is as easy as blaming Jim O'Brien, but these players aren't junior high kids, they're pros. 

There's plenty of life left in this season and no reason to panic after losing three games to three better teams. Instead it is time to show some guts, some leadership, some fight.

After the jump, a few more links of interest after last night's loss.