After two consecutive losses, the Indiana Pacers bounced back with a convincing 110-100 win over the red-hot Los Angeles Lakers. The Pacers move onto 41-30 on the season while the Lakers drop off to 31-39. With the win, Indiana moves back into the sole possession of fourth place in the tight Eastern Conference race. They are once again just a half-game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for third place.
The story of the night was the return of big man Myles Turner, who posted a team-high 21 points on 9/15 shooting along with a +16 rating, also highest on the team. Turner had missed the last game against the Wizards after spraining his ankle over the weekend against the Raptors. Turner also logged seven rebounds and a pair of blocks over 30 minutes. The ankle looked to be just fine.
The rest of the starting lineup also filled up the stat sheet as Victor Oladipo would finish with 20 points on 8/15 from the floor. Thad Young looked fresh despite coming off an illness this week, posting an 18-9-4 line on an efficient 9/12. Darren Collison returned to the starting lineup and continued his resurrection season 15 points on 5/10 while dishing eight assists. The bench was once again led by Born Ready himself. Lance Stephenson would throw up 16 points, many of them timely as the Pacers pulled away in the third quarter.
The Lakers came out firing from the floor, outscoring the home team 37-29 in the first quarter. After the opening frame, the Pacers defense would not allow more than 22 points in a quarter in the last three. Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle scored 27 and 23, respectively. Brook Lopez gave the Pacers defense all sorts of fits, scoring nine of their first 13 points, and finished with 21.
A 35-21 third quarter from the Pacers would prove too much for the Lakers as the Pacers seemingly had things wrapped up heading into the fourth. Los Angeles cleaned up the glass, winning that margin 47-44, although it’s worth noting that margin was 27-17 at half. The Pacers won the turnover battle, as they normally do, 7-13. Victor Oladipo finished with three steals, extending his consecutive games streak to 54 games, eighth longest streak in league history. The Pacers shot nearly 50 percent from the floor on the night, but just 28.6 from downtown.
Looking ahead, the Pacers next game is on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans, a makeup of February 7th’s rainout. Beyond that, they return home Friday to take on the Clippers and run out the weekend Sunday against Miami. To round out the month the Pacers head west to face the Warriors and Kings. They will start the last month of the regular season on a West road trip. Their new magic number to clinch a playoff spot is now just three. To give you an idea of how large of a gap that truly is, if the Pacers go 2-9 in their last 11, the Detroit Pistons (currently in 9th) would have to go 11-0 for the Pacers to miss the playoffs.