The Indiana Pacers securing their fourth straight win took big time execution late, set up by none other than Malcolm Brogdon, who had five points late to help the Pacers close a late five-point deficit against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pacers stepped up on both ends in the last three minutes, closing the game on a 10-2 run to improve themselves to 19-9 on the year.
As exciting as things were late, the game opened with a much different look, one where the Lakers thrived on alley-oops and free throws to push them to a 24-14 lead late in the first quarter. Looking for a spark, the backcourt of Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell off the bench did just that. Holiday had a pair of assists and McConnell dropped four (and a steal) to bring the Pacers back to within striking distance.
Four points from Justin Holiday helped finish off the quarter on a 10-4 run to bring Indiana to within four. The Lakers scored 28 points in the first, all in the paint or at the line and carried over that efficiency into their defensive play as Dwight Howard had Los Angeles’s third block of the game to open the second quarter, swatting away A. Holiday.
Holiday was undeterred, sizing up LeBron James on the following possession, attacking the rim and bringing the Pacers to within two.
6-foot, 185-pound Aaron Holiday drives right at 6-foot-9, 250-pound LeBron James and gets the job done. #Pacers— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) December 18, 2019
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That two-point deficit would become commonplace for the Pacers throughout the remainder of the half. Each time they’d cut it to a one possession game, they’d immediately surrender a bucket on the other end. It may have been frustrating defensively, but Indiana really came through consistently on the offensive end to keep pace, getting three pointers from Domantas Sabonis and big play late from Myles Turner to help make it a 52-50 game at the break.
The Pacers would carry their offensive momentum over into the second half, breaking through into the lead on a pair of T.J. Warren buckets, his first four points of the game. Meanwhile, on the defensive end, the Pacers had finally begun to snuff out the all-too-common alley-oop plays the Lakers were running thanks to Jeremy Lamb, who was also scoreless in the opening half.
Lamb also provided a highlight bucket after the teams traded three point shots. The Pacers, up one, had the shot clock wind down and Lamb heaved up a prayer that went in, the first of his two buckets, to eventually push Indiana ahead by five.
WHAT A SHOT BY JEREMY LAMB!!! #Pacers— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) December 18, 2019
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After pushing the lead to nine and having it trimmed back to four, Brogdon and Warren scored five straight to again make it a nine-point advantage with four minutes remaining. With James resting, it proved to be a huge wasted opportunity for the Pacers to push the game into double figures as Dwight Howard dunked all over Indiana.
Howard kickstarted a massive 13-4 run by the Lakers, allowing Avery Bradley and Alex Caruso to tie the game up at 76-76 with a minute left in the quarter. The play of the backup backcourt again proved to go quietly, with A. Holiday throwing the ball at the basket for the big quarter ending heave.
Aaron Holiday with the finish to end the 3rd QTR! #IndianaStyle x #CenterCourt pic.twitter.com/iUhXPRAGpn— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 18, 2019
After Doug McDermott threw up his patented fourth quarter three to open the fourth, the Pacers settled on a five point advantage, but began to struggle again against the Lakers’ ability to play at the rim. In the opening minutes of the final period, the Pacers allowed Los Angeles to get to the basket four times on and-one plays, eventually sending James to the line with a chance to tie the game at 91.
Fortunately, James missed the free throw, allowing the Pacers to escape the and-one barrage at just 2-4. Unfortunately, JaVale McGee would dunk the Lakers into the lead at the halfway mark of the quarter and Caruso would make it a four point advantage. Warren scored the next four tie the game up, but again, timely three point shooting from the Lakers put them back up front.
Howard completed yet another alley-oop to push Los Angeles up by five with 3:28 remaining, but the Pacers didn’t panic as a response. With plenty of time on the clock, Brogdon calmly stepped into a three pointer to cut the lead to two. A pair of fouls on ensuing possessions threatened to push the Pacers back down two possessions, but both James and Howard blanked at the free throw line, going 0-4, setting up Brogdon to tie the game on a steady floater.
Malcolm is pic.twitter.com/QUD1eF50E6— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 18, 2019
Forcing a stop, Turner was fouled on the rebound, sending him to the line to push the Pacers into the lead on a pair of free throws, but Indiana gave them right back when Sabonis fouled James on what may have otherwise been a huge block from Turner. James didn’t miss this time, tying the game at 102-102 with 1:40 remaining.
After a pair of misses by both teams, Brogdon came back down the other end, taking Howard on a beautiful up and under to put Indiana back on top with 36 seconds on the clock.
Brogdon gives Indy the lead with 36 seconds left! pic.twitter.com/XHQ6YIAXyI— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 18, 2019
The Pacers secured a stop on a James missed three, sending Sabonis to the line with a chance to ice the game. He missed on the second, sending the Lakers the other way with 10 seconds on the clock, Rajon Rondo settling for a deep three that rimmed out, giving the Pacers a 105-102 victory over the Lakers.
While the Pacers allowed 62 points in the paint, they were really bailed out big time at the free throw line. They themselves were a rather poor 13-20 from the line, splitting every single trip in the first half. Somehow, the Lakers were even worse in the game, going just 8-17. While good for Dale Davis, it allowed the Pacers to keep the game within reach, especially late when they were down five.
For the game, the Pacers were led by Sabonis who had 26 points and 10 rebounds. Sabonis helped return the favor somewhat for all the dunks the Lakers were throwing down, getting some big jams himself, highlighted by a fourth quarter dunk on Howard.
DOMAS IS DUNKING ON EVERYONE. NOBODY IS SAFE pic.twitter.com/Of6H24rk23— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 18, 2019
Turner found himself an excellent groove tonight, scoring 16 points with seven rebounds and a pair of blocks. The two bigs led the way for the Pacers with 42 combined points, which again proved helpful in the face of Howard’s 10-10 for 20 points performance. Turner hit three threes and while fell victim to numerous alley-oops while helping off his man, he did a great job against drives, limiting the effectiveness of James at the rim.
The play early from both Sabonis and Turner proved key as both Warren and Lamb went scoreless in the first half, Lamb saddled with foul trouble. The pair stepped up after the break, combining for 12 points in the third quarter. Lamb unfortunately suffered a groin injury, sending him out of the game in the third. Not surprisingly, his ability to prevent the alley-oop was a big swing in favor of the Pacers in the third, summarily disappearing when he exited.
Brogdon finished with 14 points, seven of those coming in the final 3:17 to help guide the Pacers back from a five-point deficit. Brogdon’s scoring to that point was strictly timely, but his ability to step up late proved the difference late in favor of the Pacers. Getting them to that point was the play of both A. Holiday and McConnell.
The two reached double figures with 11 and 10 points, Holiday hitting a pair of big threes and McConnell bringing the best energy in the game, picking up three steals, two off of inbound passes (though neither were converted). Timely play from J. Holiday and McDermott also helped, with them each scoring six.
The win, Indiana’s fourth straight, puts them 10 games above .500 for the first time this season. It also gives them a 5-4 record against winning teams, the third best mark in the East. The 12-3 record at home is also their best through 15 games since 2013-14.
For the opponent, it was Los Angeles’s first road loss since opening night, snapping a 14-game road winning streak. It also improved the Pacers to 24-18 all time against James at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which is a nice way to cope with all the pain he has inflicted on the franchise over the years.
The Pacers will wrap up their three game home stand when they face the Sacramento Kings on Friday. The Kings will enter the game 4-2 in their last six games, three of those coming on the road, giving the Pacers another tough test against a Western opponent.