Lakers 99 - Pacers 93 (Final)
The Lakers muscled out arguably their best win of the season, defeating the Pacers in Indiana, 99-93.
Kobe Bryant got through a quarter on a severely sprained ankle he suffered Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks, but couldn’t play after 12 scoreless minutes.
His teammates came through with contributions from some unlikely sources. Steve Blake (18 points) and Antawn Jamison (17) contributed 35 off the bench, both hitting crucial shots against a tough Indiana squad.
Metta World Peace helped carry the Lakers’ offense in key stretches, scoring 19 points while helping to anchor the Lakers’ defense.
Blake also had seven assists and four steals while hitting 5-of-7 from three-point range. Jamison hit 4-of-7 threes in a game where the Lakers shot just 42.3% from the field.
Dwight Howard led the Lakers with 20 points, 12 boards and four blocks, hitting 6-of-11 from the line. The Lakers big man played through foul trouble all night but was still able to help control the Pacers on the defensive end.
Indiana shot 37.4% from the field but hit 12-of-27 from three-point range (44.4%). George Hill led the way with 27 points, Paul George followed with 20.
The Lakers improve to 35-32, defeating the second-place team in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers fall to 40-25 — a full game ahead of the slumping New York Knicks.
Pacers 69 - Lakers 68 (end of third quarter)
After 12 scoreless minutes in the first quarter, Kobe Bryant couldn’t return on his sprained ankle. Jodie Meeks started the second half and the Pacers quickly scored 13 straight to pull ahead 56-50.
The Lakers battled back behind an offensive burst from Metta World Peace to briefly take back the lead. The Pacers ended the third up 69-68.
World Peace led the Lakers with 17 points through three quarters. Dwight Howard had 13 points, 11 boards and four blocks as the Lakers held the Pacers to 36% shooting.
George Hill and Paul George led Indiana with 17 each. Both teams had 13 turnovers.
The Lakers shot 37.9% from the field but 9-of-20 from three-point range. The Pacers also hit nine three pointers (19 attempts). Free throws were the difference for the Lakers with 23 attempts to Indiana’s six.
Lakers 46 - Pacers 41 (halftime)
Kobe Bryant didn’t play in the second quarter but Dwight Howard and the Lakers’ reserves built a lead on the Pacers.
Howard picked up his third foul halfway through the period but Antawn Jamison and Steve Blake helped carry the scoring load. Jamison finished a team-high 11 points. Blake had eight with four assists.
The Lakers fell behind by 11 before pulling ahead by the same margin, but the Pacers closed within five by the end of the half.
Steve Nash hit a shot slightly after the halftime buzzer. The officials ruled that the clock started 1 1/2 seconds too early but still wouldn’t allow Nash’s field goal. Instead the Pacers had to come back out of their locker room to finish the half . . . again.
The Lakers shot 35.7% from the field but matched the Pacers’ defensive intensity, holding Indiana to 30.8% from the field with nine turnovers.
Paul George led the Pacers with 12 points. Lance Stephenson had 10.
Pacers 19 - Lakers 16 (end of first quarter)
Kobe Bryant played through a sprained ankle, making a surprise start against the Indiana Pacers despite being called “out indefinitely” on Wednesday.
The Lakers survived a slow start against the Pacers to close within three despite falling behind by as many as 11. Metta World Peace hit a pair of three-pointers. Steve Blake tricked D.J. Augustin into a bad foul with 0.4 seconds left to help the Lakers close the period with eight straight points.
Bryant didn’t score in the period. Lance Stephenson led the Pacers with eight.
Both Dwight Howard and Roy Hibbert sat relatively early in the period with foul trouble.
When the Lakers (34-32) visit the Pacers (40-24) on Friday night in Indianapolis, they’ll do so with Kobe Bryant in the lineup. Despite a severely sprained left ankle, Bryant will be starting for the Lakers.
[Updated, 3:38 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said Bryant was a game-time decision. The team has since listed Bryant as a starter in tonight’s lineup.]
It will be a difficult task for the Lakers to beat the second-best team in the Eastern Conference with Bryant limited by the ankle injury.
Pau Gasol is almost, but not quite, back from a foot injury.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Pacers.