LOS ANGELES, CA -- The Indiana Pacers survived a late game comeback effort by the Los Angeles Lakers. The Pacers managed to win this game by a final score of 107-103. There were a few interesting storylines from this game; Paul George scored 39 points, Roy Hibbert and Jordan Hill were facing their former teams, Paul George was facing his childhood idol (Kobe Bryant) and Reggie Miller was in the house watching the game, but none of these matched the announcement that Kobe Bryant made prior to this game. Kobe Bryant told the media that after this season he will be retiring from professional basketball. Bryant will have played 20 seasons in the NBA at the end of this season.
Paul George on facing Kobe Bryant for possibly the final time in his career (via Pacers.com):
"I was going to cherish this moment," George said. "What a feeling, to play against your idol back home."
This wasn't a pretty win by the Pacers at all, but all that matters is the fact that they found a way to win. Finding ways to win games has been a month long trend for the Pacers, in fact, the Pacers finished the month of November with an 11-2 record. The Pacers are now 11-5 overall and are also 5-3 on the road this season. Indiana is currently the second seed in the Eastern Conference and they are now just 1.5 games back from the first place Cleveland Cavaliers. Indiana's lead on some trailing teams could be extended tomorrow; Chicago Bulls play the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat play the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks play the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Detroit Pistons play the Houston Rockets.
The first quarter went as planned for the Pacers. The Pacers led for the entire first quarter after an open catch-and-shoot three by Paul George. Monta Ellis got the assist as he pushed the ball from the inbounds pass. George was open because the Lakers didn't get back on defense fast enough. George made the Lakers pay for not closing out on his jumper by making the three from the wing. There was 8:18 left in the opening quarter at that point and the Pacers led 5-2. Indiana outscored Los Angeles 23-10 from that point to close the quarter with a 26-12 lead. The story didn't change in the second quarter for the Pacers. The closest the Lakers came in that second quarter was seven points. The score was 48-35 with the Pacers leading at the end of the first half.
Indiana maintained a double-digit lead all throughout the third quarter. The Pacers outscored the Lakers 32-30 during this quarter, so the score was 80-65 with a quarter to play. The fourth quarter was where everything became interesting. Paul George had 14 points in the final two minutes to help seal the win for Indy. Los Angeles came within two points (100-98) after Metta World Peace made a wide open catch-and-shoot jumper with around 17 seconds remaining in the game. Since Kobe Bryant had the ball in the corner and was being trapped, Bryant made the pass to the open World Peace near the top of the key. Paul George's 14 points in the final two minutes was simply too much for the defense to handle. Indiana won this game 107-103 as previously mentioned.
Box Score (via ESPN):
Paul George: 37 MIN, 10/21 FG, 5/10 3PT, 14/17 FT, 4 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TO, and 39 PTS.
Monta Ellis: 36 MIN, 5/7 FG, 1/2 3PT, 4/4 FT, 3 REB, 6 AST, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 4 TO, and 15 PTS.
George Hill: 33 MIN, 4/11 FG, 1/4 3PT, 2/3 FT, 6 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 0 BLK, 2 TO, and 11 PTS.
C.J. Miles: 30 MIN, 3/13 FG, 2/9 3PT, 1/2 FT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 1 BLK, 0 TO, and 9 PTS.
Ian Mahinmi: 28 MIN, 2/3 FG, 0/0 3PT, 4/6 FT, 10 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 2 BLK, 2 TO, and 8 PTS.
Rodney Stuckey: 27 MIN, 3/11 FG, 1/2 3PT, 5/5FT, 7 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 2 BLK, 2 TO, and 11 PTS.
Jordan Hill: 20 MIN, 3/8 FG, 0/0 3PT, 0/0 FT, 10 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 0 TO, and 6 PTS.
Lavoy Allen: 17 MIN, 3/6 FG, 0/0 3PT, 0/0 FT, 7 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 0 TO, and 6 PTS.
Chase Budinger: 11 MIN, 1/3 FG, 0/0 3PT, 0/0 FT, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0 BLK, 1 TO, and 2 PTS.
Pacers Team Stats (via ESPN):
107 points, 34/83 (41.0 percent) from the field, 9/27 (33.3 percent) from the perimeter, 30/37 (81.1 percent) from the free throw line, 50 total rebounds, nine offensive rebounds, 41 defensive rebounds, 17 assists, four steals, five blocks, 16 turnovers, 18 fouls, 19 points allowed off turnovers, 42 points in the paint, eight fast break points, 12 opponent turnovers, and 12 points scored off turnovers.
Lakers Team Stats: (via ESPN):
103 points, 38/99 (38.4 percent) from the field, 11/33 (33.3 percent) from the perimeter, 16/22 (72.7 percent) from the free throw line, 54 total rebounds, 15 offensive rebounds, 39 defensive rebounds, 17 assists, six steals, five blocks, 12 turnovers, 27 fouls, 12 points allowed off turnovers, 38 points in the paint, eight fast break points, 16 opponent turnovers, and 19 points scored off turnovers.
The Pacers looked flat and erratic at times during this game. But the important aspect of this game was that the Pacers turned up their execution down the stretch to win. The Lakers are a terrible team and the Pacers played down to their competition. At times there was frequent bad shot selection, bad passes, bad on/off-ball screens, bad off-ball movement and a lack of execution on quality shot attempts, but again, they did just enough execution to win.
From a defensive standpoint, the Pacers did a bad job in this game. At times there was poor help defense, poor on-ball defense, poor boxing out, visible lack of effort, poor defense against screens, lack of attention, and poor off-ball defense. Indiana would do a great job in almost every area when they were building a lead, but they stopped playing quality basketball and let up when they finally got their leads. In the future, the Pacers need to keep their aggressiveness at a high level and not let up to teams that they should be easily putting away.