The Los Angeles Lakers lost their third straight game and fourth in their last five Sunday night as they blew a double-digit lead in the first quarter and fell to the Indiana Pacers at the Staples Center 98-96. The Pacers had six players in double figures as center Roy Hibbert led the way with 18 points. Kobe Bryant was the high scorer in the contest with 33 points; but he had to jack up 30 shots to do it. Once again the veteran reverted to the style of play he used before playing in the 2008 Olympics. His learning to trust and work with his fellow players on the roster led to back to back NBA Titles, Bryant will have regain to that mind-set in order for the Lakers to go deep into the Playoffs this year.
The home team looked as if they were about to make this game a lopsided victory during the first 12 minutes of play as they dominated each end of the court. The Pacers appeared to need a road map to locate the basket and the Lakers showed no mercy as they scored early and often. Darius Morris hit a pair at the line with seven seconds left and his team led 27-14 at the end of the period. Indiana awoke from their comatose state during the second and slowly and methodically worked their way back into the game. David West drained a 26 foot trey with one second to play and the Pacers cut their deficit to 52-49 as the game reached the half.
Lance Stephenson knocked down a pair at the charity stripe with 48 seconds in the third and Indiana had their first lead of the contest since the opening seconds as they went on top 77-75. Bryant hit a mid-range jumper with one second remaining and the Lakers held the upper hand at 78-77 at the conclusion of the quarter. Los Angeles sprinted out in front in the opening minutes of the fourth but the Pacers would once again come back. Derek Fisher buried an outside shot with 1:57 left in the game and put his team ahead 94-91. Those would be the last points that Los Angeles would score as the Pacers closed out the game on a 7-0 run and got the win.
Hibbert scored 18 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists while Danny Granger had 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. West knocked down 15 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal while Paul George added 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Darren Collison contributed 12 points while George Hill came off the bench and chipped in 11 points.
Bryant had 33 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists while Andrew Bynum scored 16 points, 8 rebounds and 1 assist. Matt Barnes put up 14 points, 5 rebounds and 2 steals while Metta World Peace added 11 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. Indiana now has a record of 11-4 and will host Orlando on Tuesday while Los Angeles slips to 10-8 and they host the Clippers on Wednesday.