After defeating the Lakers on Tuesday night 104-92, the Indiana Pacers kept their hold on the NBA's best overall record of 35-9.
One significant advantage the Pacers have had this year over the Lakers is health.
Three of Indiana's five starters have played in all 44 games thus far (All-Star Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert). Lance Stephenson sat out just one game and point guard George Hill missed three.
Key reserves Luis Scola, Ian Mahinmi and C.J. Watson have also avoided the injury bug.
It's no surprise the Lakers are 16-30.
"Not with the injuries they've had. You can't overcome what they've had to deal with," said Pacers Coach Frank Vogel. "You've got two guys like [Steve] Nash and Kobe [Bryant], who are some of the best in the league, and you lose them for as long as they've been out -- as well as the other guys they've had out -- it's impossible to do any better than they've done."
Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry are also sidelined.
"I think Coach Mike [D'Antoni] is going a great job, just keeping them playing hard and doing the best they can," said Vogel.
The only true health issue of note for the Pacers this season has been the knee of Danny Granger, who has played in just 19 games.
Granger missed almost all of last season. The Pacers have learned how to compete without their former All-Star.
Meanwhile Granger chipped in 10 points and six rebounds while Bryant watched his team fall apart in the second half.
The Lakers announced Tuesday that Bryant will miss at least another three weeks, recovering from a knee injury.
"You've got guys coming in and out of the lineup, it's almost impossible to play at a high level," said Vogel. "We've had a core together for a couple of years now too, which is even more important."
Of the nine Lakers who played to defeat on Tuesday, only four were on the last season's roster.
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