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Lakers

Roy Hibbert’s reunion is in Kobe Bryant’s shadow as Lakers lose to Pacers

Kobe Bryant, Roy Hibbert

Kobe Bryant and Roy Hibbert talk strategy during a game against the Mavericks on Nov. 13.

(Larry W. Smith / EPA)

On the night Kobe Bryant announced that he will be retiring at the end of the season, Lakers center Roy Hibbert was having his own special moment.

But Hibbert playing against his former Indiana Pacers team Sunday night at Staples Center did nothing to stop nearly every thought and conversation from being about Bryant, who wrote a letter on The Players’ Tribune on Sunday stating that his 20th season will be his last.

Hibbert and the rest of the Lakers had to carry on under Bryant’s immense cloud, something they have had to do all season.

The Lakers lost again, 107-103 to the Pacers, coming up short after trimming a 22-point deficit to one point on a Bryant three-pointer with 12 seconds left.

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Jordan Clarkson (22 points), Nick Young (22) and Julius Randle (11 points, 12 rebounds) were the best thing the Lakers had on offense.

Hibbert had a decent showing with eight points and nine rebounds while facing his old teammates, his old friends, his old team that didn’t want him any more after seven years of service with the Pacers.

The strong hints after the team’s end-of-season interviews from president Larry Bird and Coach Frank Vogel were that Hibbert wouldn’t be guaranteed a starting spot in the lineup in the future.

Still, Hibbert exercised his player option for $15.6 million, knowing that his days in Indiana were coming to a close.

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In need of a center, the Lakers acquired Hibbert during the summer for a low second-round draft pick. In need of a new start, Hibbert even gave up most of his $2.2-million trade kicker to get out of town.

So Hibbert got to face a Pacers group that is one of the surprise teams in the NBA as it has jumped out to an 11-5 start, the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

On Sunday, Indiana wore its Hickory High alternate uniforms made famous in “Hoosiers” movie.

His Lakers team is one of the worst in the league, their 2-14 start being the worst in franchise history going into December.

Even the 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers were at least 3-15 before the start of December.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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