It looked a lot like those games the Lakers have been winning at home.
Sloppy defense leads to a close and high scoring first half. In the third quarter, behind a push from Trevor Ariza and the bench players, the Lakers go on a 17-0 run and take a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Except on the road, it’s a lot harder to turn that into a laugher win.
It was a game that just felt like a number the Lakers have won this year, except that this time the Lakers mistake for the night came back to bite them in the end. The mistake of the night was offensive rebounds — Indiana won that battle 19-8, including the final play of the game.
“Things were bouncing their way,” said coach Phil Jackson after the game. “They had some shots that went array and they were able to capture the ball down in the corner a couple of times.”
The Lakers lost that 16-point lead because they had six fourth-quarter turnovers, which combined with 4 of 14 shooting in the last 12 minutes led to just 16 points after the team scored more than 30 in the first three quarters.
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Meanwhile, the Pacers started hitting threes — hitting three of six in the fourth quarter — plus the team had six offensive rebounds the quarter. The Lakers defensive strategy seemed to be to pack the paint against the Pacers and dare the team to shoot open jumpers all night — the result was Pacers shooting 36% on their 22 three point attempts.
Ironically, the Lakers played pretty good defense on the game’s final play, rotating quickly to force a contested T.J. Ford reverse lay-up that he missed. The problem was offensive rebounding, nobody blocked out Murphy, who picked up his another rebound, number 17 on the night, with the tip in game winner.
After the final shot, the Lakers players looked just about as stunned as their fans. Andrew Bynum slammed the ball into the ground. Derek Fisher and Trevor Ariza stared off at the court in disbelief.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 28 points on 10 of 21 shooting, and he struggled in the fourth making just one of five from the floor (that one did give the Lakers a 117-116 lead). Pau Gasol added 20 points, Bynum had 17 and both had 9 rebounds. Once again Ariza was a star off the bench, scoring 13 points, six during the key third quarter run that gave the Lakers the lead.
Danny Granger led the Pacers with 32 points but the Lakers held him to 10 of 27 shooting. Ford added 21 and Rasho Nesterovic, a career 7 point a game player, added 16 inside on 8 of 13 shooting.
No rest for the Lakers, who had a flight after the game to Philadelphia for a meeting with the Sixers on Wednesday night.