Lakers 96, Pacers 98: Jan. 22 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening home contest against Indiana, the Lakers looking to break a two-game losing streak (at Miami, at Orlando) with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Pacers: D. Collison, P. George, D. Granger, D. West, R. Hibbert

FIRST QUARTER
4:00 In the entire game against Orlando, L.A. totaled eight offensive rebounds on Saturday night. The night before in Miami, they managed 12. But in the first eight minutes against Indiana, L.A. had already claimed six offensive boards, the key in a 21-12 start.

0:00 Somewhat related to that first note was that Indiana simply didn’t have the personnel to deal with L.A.’s front line. Roy Hibbert drew his 2nd PF early, meaning David West (6-9, 240) and Tyler Hansbrough (ditto) had to guard Bynum and Gasol, which created several of those off. board chances, and put Indy in the bonus just seven minutes in. At quarter’s end, L.A. led 27-14 behind 11 points from Bryant, plus six points and five boards and two blocks from the Spaniard.

SECOND QUARTER
12:00 Adding to Indiana’s misery: center Hibbert broke his nose in that first quarter, and was questionable to return. L.A. was already dominating inside, taking 14 free throws to Indy’s zero. George Hill did open the second by hitting consecutive shots, though a Metta World Peace and-1 (he missed the FT) made it 29-19 with 10:13 on the clock.

6:43 The Lakers have struggled getting bench production especially since backup PG Steve Blake hurt his ribs, so 15 points off the pine in the first half was a most welcome sight for Mike Brown. Leading the way was World Peace, who drained a three after a put-back moments earlier to reach nine points, keeping L.A. up 12 points as Bryant and Fisher got set to return. Devin Ebanks and Darius Morris also offered some good minutes, while Josh McRoberts was active with three boards, two assists and a block against his former team.

0:00 But from that point on, it was all Indy, as West’s fall-away three at the buzzer from the top of the key sank through the net, capping a 19-8 run that cut L.A.’s lead to just three at 52-49. Bryant had 17 points and four boards, though Gasol and Bynum combined for only two points in the second quarter after 10 total in the first.

THIRD QUARTER
7:45 After getting killed at the three-point line in Florida, the Lakers tonight watched Indy catch fire from downtown, with three straight makes suddenly producing a 4-point Pacers lead. Bryant, however, responded with two straight hoops to tie the game at 62.

3:14 To essentially repeat ourselves here, Indy was hanging around almost exclusively thanks to the three-pointer, as George Hill connected on his second and third of the game to bring the Pacers within two points despite consecutive hoops from Bryand (27 points) and Barnes (10). It’s sometimes tricky for L.A. to both pack the paint, and also get out to contest all triples.

FOURTH QUARTER
10:51 Bryant’s buzzer beater to end the third gave him 31 points and L.A. a one-point lead, and a Bynum free throw and Murphy three (against the team for whom he used to average a double-double) pushed the lead to 82-77.

8:00 Early this season, World Peace had impactful minutes off the bench by out muscling opposing small forwards inside, but he’d gotten away from that of late to the tune of too many perimeter jumpers. On this night, however, he returned to the paint, a 14-foot jumper in front of the free throw line getting him to 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Related: L.A. took a 7-point lead.

4:51 Yet another triple made Indy 10-of-17, and Hibbert hit two more field goals in close to make him -for-7 since breaking his nose in the first quarter. In other words, L.A. wasn’t catching many breaks on defense. They still led by one, however, after two Barnes free throws. But with 1:20 to go, Collison got a runner to fall over Kobe, putting Indy up one, sandwiched around perimeter misses from Gasol and Barnes. Thus, Indy had the ball, up 95-94, with 47 seconds to play.

0:02.4 Reminding the Lakers of their only other home loss, on opening day against Chicago, L.A. saw victory taken from its grasp in the final two minutes, as they failed to score a point in several possessions before a meaningless drop-in layup from Gasol as time expired. Gasol missed a 13-foot J with 1:26 left, Barnes missed an open three with 52 seconds left, Fisher missed a floater with 10.9 seconds left and Bryant missed a potential game-tying three with 2.4 remaining. In that time, Indy got a Hibbert hook (he was 8-for-9 in the second half), a Collison floater and two Collison free throws to send L.A. out of the building with its third straight loss, and fourth in five games.

Up next: a Tuesday rematch with the Clippers, L.A. the home team this time.