Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening contest against Indiana, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Morris, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Pacers: G. Hill, L. Stephenson, P. George, D. West, R. Hibbert
11:00 The primary story of the day: Kobe Bryant had flu-like symptoms and missed shootaround, leaving him questionable for the game. Of course, he was out there to start the action, even though he spent much of the pregame shooting period lying in front of the team’s bench with a towel over his head. A minute into the game, Bryant pulled up and nailed a three. He likes being sick.
0:45.7 L.A. quickly found itself down by as many as 12 at 25-13, struggling to match Indiana’s physicality, but with Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill checking in, the Lakers turned the tide. An 8-0 run spurred by those two on D and the glass, and Kobe on offense (13 points on 5 of 6 shooting) trimmed that Pacers lead down to only four after the first.
5:48 The Pacers opened the game hitting 10 of 15 shots … then started to completely brick everything. They made literally one shot in 23 attempts, but the Lakers weren’t taking full advantage, finding themselves still down 27-25 halfway through the second, due in part to 10 turnovers. Indy was at 30.8% shooting when David West finally hit a jumper, but L.A. was just 11 of 32 (34.3%), Kobe notching five of those field goals, but with his activity on offense (15 field goal attempts in the first half) left many of his teammates without a chance to find a rhythm. He’d been more of a facilitator in the previous several wins, but perhaps in part because he was sick, was more focused on scoring in this one.
1:29 While Kobe had it going in that first quarter, his illness started to catch up to him, as he made only 1 of his 9 shots after starting 5 of 6, and totaled four turnovers. Indy capitalized with a quick 5-0 run to open a 7-point lead. World Peace did find Howard with a pretty pass to set up a dunk with 20 seconds left, but Ian Mahinmi answered with a jam of his own to produce a 40-33 lead at the break.
7:00 Things didn’t get much better on offense for L.A., as threes continued to brick off the rim (3 for 15) and free throws followed suit. Darius Morris missed 1 of 2 to fall to 1 of 4 on the night, and Howard missed both on the next trip, the team falling to 7 of 17 from the stripe (Howard 3 of 8). As such, Indy held onto a 48-40 lead.
3:00 Seven straight Kobe points, after he’d been scoreless in the quarter, cut what had been a 13-point lead down to six, forcing the Pacers to call a time out. Bryant was up to 23 points, the Lakers trying to find some life in a game they’d barely managed to shoot 30 percent at that point (30.9 after Kobe’s transition layup). The deficit was 61-57 heading into the fourth quarter, one that Bryant would start despite leading all players in minutes (32).
8:19 Kobe kept scoring, reaching 32 points at the foul line (11 of 12) to help mask the rest of the team’s 8 of 21 at the line (Howard 3 of 10, Jamison 1 for 4, Morris 1 for 4). Jamison’s one make came after he’d failed to hit several open shots (1 for 7) after two straight great individual road games off the bench, but L.A. was still within only two points. Jodie Meeks also failed to score in his seven minutes off the bench, Kobe ending up playing nearly 44 minutes.
2:27 Biggest play of the game thus far for L.A. came from, who else, Bryant, his big bucket on the baseline coming with a bonus: the 6th Roy Hibbert foul. However, he missed the free throw (LAL 23 of 39) as Indy held on by two.
0:00 A wild final two minutes ultimately ended in a painful way for the Lakers, with George Hill getting a scoop layup off glass to fall around Gasol and over Howard with 0.01 seconds on the clock. L.A., down by as many as 13 in the third, had battled all the way back to tie the contest at the 1:56 mark when Gasol found Howard for a dunk, but then missed four consecutive free throws (Howard 3 of 12 total, and MWP 1 of 4) before falling down by three when George Hill hit a floater with 35 seconds left.
Who else but Bryant would then step up to nail a triple, giving him 40 points on 12 of 28 shooting and 11 of 13 at the line. But with 24 seconds on the clock, Indy drained the clock all the way to two seconds before the ball left Hill’s hand, leaving only 0.01 left when it went through. Ball game. Another tough home loss for the Lakers, who fall back below .500 at 7-8. It’s a surprise they had a chance to win with 20 missed free throws, 31.6 percent field goals and 21 turnovers. The effort on D was good (Indy at 37 percent shooting) but L.A. simply couldn’t buy a bucket, or especially, a free throw.
Up next is Denver on Friday. See you there.