Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Pacers 104, Lakers 92
By Ramona Shelburne
LOS ANGELES -- The change of venue didn't help, nor did the chance to sleep in their own beds. Or the home-cooked meals. Or the cheers from their own fans.
After two weeks on the road, the Los Angeles Lakers came home Tuesday night and looked essentially like the same team they were during a depressing 2-5 trip.
This time, it was the Indiana Pacers who beat the Lakers 104-92. The Pacers are one of the best teams in the NBA, so there's no shame for the undermanned Lakers in losing to them, but this could've been any of the other 17 games they've now lost since Dec. 21. The script is the same.
The Lakers give a solid effort in the first half but run out of gas in the second half, fall behind by double digits in the third quarter and don't have nearly enough firepower to get themselves back into the game. It doesn't help when you make only five of 24 3-point shots in a game, either.
All five Pacers starters finished in double figures. Indiana got 14 points from MVP candidate Paul George, even though he had an awful shooting night (4-for-21 from the field.). David West had 19 points, and Lance Stephenson had 15 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
But the celebration of late, great Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss was the only highlight of this night.
How it happened: The Lakers mostly held the Pacers in check in the first half, but Indiana got it going in the third quarter and opened up a double-digit lead it would not surrender.
What it means: What does anything really mean for the Lakers these days? They're not making the playoffs, so wins are merely just bright spots in an otherwise dreary season. It's always nice to play one of the best teams in the league strongly. It's even nicer to put on a good show for the home crowd. But, ultimately, it was the same story it has been for L.A. this season: Indiana just had way too much for the undermanned Lakers to handle.
Hits: The Lakers continue to get strong performances from Gasol, who said he played most of Tuesday's game with a sore groin. The offense runs through him virtually every possession, and he has been carrying the load well. Tuesday night he finished with 21 points on 10-for-19 shooting and 13 rebounds with defensive player of the year candidate Roy Hibbert defending him.
Jordan Hill also came up with 10 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes off the bench, his best game in quite some time.
Misses: The Lakers basically have to shoot well from beyond the 3-point arc to win games. They did not do that by any stretch of the imagination Tuesday. Nick Young was 1-for-7 shooting on 3-pointers, and the Lakers made only five of 24. It was particularly ugly in the second half when they made only one of their 11 attempts.
Stat of the game: The Lakers get outrebounded virtually every night, so it's not surprising when another team controls the boards on them. But it's not often an opposing guard owns the glass as Stephenson did. He grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds as Indiana outrebounded L.A. 63-50.
Up next: The Lakers will take two days off before hosting the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday. L.A. beat former assistant coach Steve Clifford and his Bobcats in Charlotte, N.C., last month.