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Lakers defeat Pacers, 88-87, lose Wesley Johnson to injury

Wesley Johnson is the latest Laker to suffer an injury

The Lakers aren't just running low on victories. They're running out of players.

Wesley Johnson was the latest to incur injury, suffering a strained right hip flexor after an awkward movement in the Lakers' 88-87 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday at Staples Center.

He might be out several weeks and will not play Monday in Portland, staying in Los Angeles for an MRI exam. Kobe Bryant will also sit out the Portland game for rest purposes, making one wonder what the Lakers' starting five will look like.

It will be the first NBA miracle of the year if they win in Portland after losing 18 of their last 24 games there.

The Lakers also announced that Julius Randle would undergo surgery Tuesday to replace a screw in his right foot from an older injury. Randle was already sidelined for the season after suffering a broken leg in the season opener.

He suffered a broken foot while in high school and had a screw inserted in it then.

The Lakers are suffering medically but somehow beat Indiana despite shooting 38%.

Bryant had 20 points, six assists and made seven of 14 shots, including the go-ahead basket after backing down the taller Solomon Hill with 12.4 seconds left.

"I've gone to more of an old-man game," Bryant said. "Instead of trying to beat guys off the dribble, which is a lot of stop-and-go and wears down the joints, I just back them down."

C.J. Miles had 19 points for the Pacers, who shot 36.7% and looked disorganized on a final possession that ended with Roy Hibbert's off-balance miss from atop the key as time expired.

There were too many missed shots to make the game interesting for three quarters, though it got physical in the fourth quarter.

Carlos Boozer shoved Hibbert down on the court while the Pacers had the ball. Hibbert, none too thrilled, popped up and shoved Boozer, who had unkind words for Hibbert.

Boozer was assessed a flagrant foul, Hibbert a technical foul.

"I pushed him a little bit. He flopped a lot, and he got up acting like he was a tough guy," Boozer said. "We all know he's not a tough guy, and the refs did what they had to do."

The pregame theatrics were less enthralling but somewhat revealing when Coach Byron Scott said Bryant wouldn't play Monday. He reached the decision after consulting with long-time Lakers trainer Gary Vitti.

Bryant wouldn't necessarily sit out a game in back-to-back situations every time, Scott said.

"It depends on how he feels physically," he said."This was pretty much a no-brainer.We have three games in four nights."

Monday will mark the fourth game Bryant has sat out so he can rest.

Young said in the past he wouldn't mind a bigger workload and could get that chance in Portland after scoring 22 points Sunday.

Johnson averaged 9.7 points before Sunday and was considered one of the Lakers' top defenders. He nearly did the splits in the second quarter on the play in which he was injured. He did not return.

The Lakers will be even more hard-pressed to win without Johnson, as if it isn't difficult enough already.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.

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