January 20, 2018, 2:12 am
The Lakers were able to overcome the absence of three starters to stun the Pacers 99-86 on Friday.
Los Angeles was without Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, yet they somehow found a way to elevate their play to a new level, leading to an unexpected triumph in front of their home crowd. It was the first time all season that the Lakers won a game without Ball or Ingram in their starting lineup.
Jordan Clarkson played one of the best games of his career, finishing with 33 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and a plus-25 rating on 14-of-19 shooting from the field, 3-of-6 from 3-point range and 2-of-3 from the free throw line (the only made free throws on the night for Los Angeles). Clarkson made clutch shot after clutch shot to carry the short-handed Lakers to victory on a night when they were not expected to win.
The other notable aspect of the Laker victory was their defense — they held Indiana to only 61 points after the first quarter and 36.6 percent shooting during that same time frame.
Indiana held a seven-point lead after one quarter, scoring 25 points while shooting 42.3 percent from the field and making 2-of-5 (40.0 percent) from 3-point range. It was all downhill from there as the Pacers would go ice-cold, failing to hit a single 3-pointer for the rest of the game.
The Lakers used a 14-2 run to open the second quarter to seize control of the game. One highlight during the run was a monster dunk by reserve point guard Alex Caruso to punctuate the Laker effort. Los Angeles kept up their effort throughout the second quarter to finish the half with an eight-point lead at 47-39. The Lakers only allowed Indiana 14 second quarter points.
Los Angeles allowed Indiana to crawl to within two points at 82-80 before ending the game on a 17-6 to solidify their upset. Clarkson scored 14-of-19 points for the Lakers (matching his shooting) to carry the Lakers to victory.
Larry Nance Jr. was also tremendous in the win, finishing with 10 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks and a plus-22 rating while making 5-of-5 from the field. He relegated Julius Randle to a secondary role as he accrued only 14 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. He played only 20 minutes and made 7-of-12 shots though he did have a minus-nine rating — Nance Jr. was just better.
Victor Oladipo paced Indiana with 25 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal on 11-of-25 shooting from the field and 1-of-5 3-point shooting. The other solid performance for the Pacers was recorded by the other player from the Paul George trade Domantas Sabonis, who accrued 15 points, 14 rebounds, one assist and two blocks on 6-of-10 shooting from the field.
The Lakers played a high-energy game, perhaps taking advantage of the fact that the Pacers were on the second leg of a back-to-back. Regardless of the circumstances, Los Angeles played great defense, contesting shots all night and forcing their way into an unexpected victory.
Key Stats and Observations
- The Lakers were historically bad from the free throw line on the evening. The Lakers were the first team since the 1963-64 season to win a game while shooting below 20.0 percent from the game. They converted an abysmal 2-of-14 from the line for only 14.3 percent compared to the Pacers who made 10-of-13 from the free throw line (76.9 percent).
- Los Angeles played spectacular team defense, holding Indiana to 37-of-97 from the field (38.1 percent) while making 44-of-80 (55.0 percent) themselves.
- The Pacers only committed nine turnovers on the night vs 15 for the Lakers.
- Indiana was unable to knock down their shots from downtown on Friday, making only 2-of-25 from 3-point range (8.0 percent) compared to 9-of-28 (32.1 percent) for Los Angeles.
- Another consequence of the Pacers’ inability to shoot was a very low number of assists (15), compared to the Lakers’ 26 on the evening.
- The Lakers’ bench outscored the Pacers’ bench 52-to-20 — Clarkson outscored Indiana 33-to-20 on his own.
The Lakers (16-29) host the New York Knicks (21-25) on Sunday with a chance to repeat their wonderful, gutsy performance from Friday. The Knicks are coming off a victory against the Utah Jazz and will be looking for the season sweep against Los Angeles.
New York is led by Kristaps Porzingis, a unique talent who the Lakers passed on three years ago in the draft — choosing instead to draft D’Angelo Russell. On the season Porzingis is averaging 23.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.4 blocks per game.
The Knicks also recently welcomed back Tim Hardaway Jr. to their lineup — in his last outing he exploded for 31 points, five rebounds, three assists and six 3-pointers.