Preview: Lakers at Indiana Pacers

The Lakers have a three-game winning streak but may be vulnerable for a letdown against the Indiana Pacers

The Lakers (8-16) won their third consecutive game on Sunday, defeating the Timberwolves (5-18) in Minnesota.

Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan on the all-time career scoring list in an emotional moment for the all-star and the franchise.

The Lakers also defeated the San Antonio Spurs (17-7) on Friday night, in an exciting overtime battle won on a late Nick Young three-point shot.

So coming into Indiana, on the second night of a back-to-back after the two recent highs, the Lakers may be vulnerable for a letdown.

The Pacers have played a difficult schedule recently, losing eight in a row. They've dealt with an array of injuries for much of the season including to Paul George (leg), C.J. Miles (knee) and George Hill (knee). They have only recently gotten David West back from an ankle injury.

The Lakers are still down Xavier Henry (Achilles' tendon), Ryan Kelly (hamstring), Steve Nash (back) and Julius Randle (leg). 

Key matchup

The Pacers are averaging just 93.2 points a night, while allowing 97.4.

The Lakers score 102.6 but give up 109.5.

Indiana boasts a rarity in today's NBA, a true center in Roy Hibbert, who stands at 7-foot-2.  Through 20 appearances, he's scoring 11.6 points a game with 7.3 rebounds but also 2.2 blocks a night.

Hibbert can be an intimidating presence at the basket. The Lakers will counter with Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, Ed Davis and Carlos Boozer.

Boozer has played significantly better since his demotion to the bench. The Lakers need his offense and rebounding, while Davis gives the team more versatility on the defensive side of the game.

X-factor

Offensively, the Pacers search for scoring from a variety of sources.

Free-agent signing Rodney Stuckey is the team's leading scorer at just 12.8 points a game.

West is second at 11.7, followed by Hibbert and C.J. Watson's 11.1, Solomon Hill's 11, Donald Sloan's 10.4, Chris Copeland's 10.3 and Luis Scola's 9.2.

The Lakers' offense revolves around Bryant; the Pacers are the polar opposite, relying on any number of players on a given night.

Bryant is averaging 25.4 points a game, with Nick Young second, a full 10.3 points behind at 15.1 a night. 

Outlook

The Lakers are getting a game they probably should win, but the Pacers are better than their record and the Lakers may not be quite as good as their three-game winning streak suggest.

Expect the Lakers to have a difficult time in Indiana.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus

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