The fixture at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse marked the first away loss for the Lakers this season, after a 14-game streak, as they wondered what it was that stopped them.
Well, for one, their destructive power forward was ruled out with an ankle injury and there’s no denying Davis’ 27-point average this season would have made all the difference in nudging the lead. With one offensive powerhouse down, the Pacers capitalised on a more guardable Lakers as Malcolm Brogdon led the on-ball duties sticking to James.
Even without All-Star Victor Oladipo, the Pacers continue to impress this season as they improve their stats to 19-9 with a four-game winning streak under their belts. Domantas Sabonis led the way with a game-high 26 points, ten rebounds and four assists, shooting 10-for-15 from the field and 1-for-2 in threes.
The Pacers have remained in the Championship running without their star player by delivering a stout defence – fifth in the league – and a consistent scoring attack as five players average double figures. This eventually broke the load on James’ shoulders although the King did work tirelessly to dish out assists, finding Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo when it mattered in the first half and even taking on the offence at crunch time.
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Howard’s stats were impeccable for LA with 20 points on 10-for-10 in shooting as a result of James’ passes and some easy dunks.
However, Indiana snatched the lead off the back of a reverse layup by Brogdon with 36 seconds remaining as both James and Rajon Rondo missed opportunities to tie the score. James finished the night on a below-average 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as the absence of Davis allowed the Pacers’ bigs to flood the paint and force James to pass out instead of finishing.
Despite their loss, the Lakers remain the head of the Western Conference, even if their unbeatable away record has been crushed.