Lakers continue scoring drought in 98-96 loss to Pacers
Wait. Not yet.
The Lakers looked as if they could beat the Indiana Pacers and break the 100-point barrier, an important two-for-one for a team that couldn’t score or win lately.
Then came the fourth quarter, all of 18 points from the Lakers and a 98-96 loss to Indiana on Sunday at Staples Center.
The Lakers have now failed to score 100 points in 11 consecutive games, their worst skid since doing it 12 times in the 2003-04 season.
There are plenty of theories why the Lakers (10-8) can no longer score.
They’ve played more games than everybody except Chicago (also 18). They’re still adjusting to Coach Mike Brown’s offense after six previous seasons of the triangle. Or maybe they’re simply a slightly above-average team.
Kobe Bryant, naturally, didn’t choose the third option.
“We’ve had a loaded schedule here to start, so hopefully that had something to do with our poor shooting,” he said. “I think some of the guys just need time off just to get their legs back.”
Bryant had 33 points but needed 30 shots to get there, making 14. He was one for six in the fourth quarter. The Lakers shot 41.9% as a team.
Pau Gasol continued to shrink statistically, handing out an impressive 10 assists but scoring only eight points for the second time in four games. He made four of 12 shots.
“I did notice that he’s out on the floor ... a lot further away from the basket,” said former Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, in his first season as the Pacers’ associate head coach.
“If you have the two big guys, that’s always been the strength of this team. You want your biggest guys closest to the basket. Sometimes Pau is out around the three-point line, so I think maybe it’s just going to take him a little time to get adjusted to the new places he is on the floor.”
Everybody knows about the Lakers’ 1-6 road record, but they had been able to protect their homecourt, winning nine of 10 until Sunday.
They led, 94-93, with 1 minute 30 seconds to play, but Gasol missed a 13-footer from the left side, Matt Barnes missed an open three-point attempt and Derek Fisher missed badly on a floater in the lane. Finally, with the Lakers down by three, Bryant’s off-balance three-point attempt bounced hard off the rim in the final seconds.
Coincidentally, Sunday marked the six-year date of Bryant’s 81-point outburst against Toronto.
Brown didn’t like how the Lakers relaxed after taking a 13-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
“Our sense of urgency was just nonexistent,” he said.
Making matters worse, or perhaps only more retro, somebody started the wave in the upper reaches of the arena near the midpoint of the fourth quarter. It stalled quickly but was re-started during a timeout and rolled through the entire arena.
The Lakers didn’t catch the momentum. They finished with seven-for-23 shooting (30.4%) in the fourth quarter.
Earlier in the game, long before the Lakers’ fourth-quarter fainting spell, a theory was put to the test — the existence of the long-held rivalry between Northern and Southern California. Surprisingly, Lakers fans booed loudly at a scoreboard replay of New York’s winning field goal against San Francisco for a Super Bowl berth.
There will be a different type of rivalry Wednesday. The Lakers play a designated home game against the Clippers.
The Lakers, not the scoreboard, might be the ones getting booed if they don’t win that one.
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