Posted January 27, 2010 - 10:25 AM
Kobe Bryant hit the game-winning jumper in the Los Angeles Lakers' previous matchup with the Indiana Pacers.
Bryant and the Lakers, though, failed to close out the Pacers in their last visit to Conseco Fieldhouse.
The Western Conference-leading Lakers will try to win two straight on the road for the first time in more than a month Wednesday night when they face Indiana for the first time this season.
Bryant hit a game-winning 18-foot turnaround jumper with three seconds left as the Lakers defeated the visiting Pacers 121-119 on Jan. 9, 2009. The two-time scoring champ, though, couldn't knock down a shot with 14 seconds remaining in Indiana on Dec. 2, 2008 that would have given Los Angeles a three-point cushion.
The Pacers took advantage of Bryant's miss and completed a 16-point fourth-quarter rally to win 118-117 on Troy Murphy's tip-in as time expired.
Los Angeles (34-11), which has lost five of its last six in Indianapolis, improved to 2-2 on its eight-game, 12-day trip with a 115-103 victory over Washington on Tuesday. The Lakers had dropped six of eight on the road since winning five straight away games from Dec. 15-26.
"Offensive rebounds, getting loose balls, turning teams over," Bryant said after scoring 26 points and handing out eight assists. "Especially when you play on the road, that's some of things you need to have happen."
Bryant is averaging 29.5 points in his last eight games versus Indiana, but he's never been guarded by defensive specialist Dahntay Jones in any of those matchups. Jones, who signed a four-year deal with the Pacers last summer after one season in Denver, faces Bryant for the first time since last season's contentious Western Conference finals.
Jones was assessed a flagrant-1 foul by the league a day after tripping the Lakers superstar in the third quarter of the Nuggets' 19-point Game 4 victory.
"I just fell on my face for no reason," Bryant joked when asked if Jones tried to trip him. "I'm a klutz."
While Bryant is trying to help Los Angeles break away from Denver and Dallas in the West race, Indiana (16-29) is looking to build some momentum with six of its next eight games at home.
Pacers coach Jim O'Brien, whose team hosts Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland on Friday, said he would like to continue with a smaller lineup, with Danny Granger starting at power forward, but Indiana might be at a significant disadvantage against the defending champions if it implements that strategy.
"Against a team like the Lakers, who have Pau Gasol and (Andrew) Bynum, it's kind of hard to go small because we'd be smaller at every position," Granger told the Pacers' official Web site.
Granger averaged 30.0 points versus Los Angeles last season.
Murphy, who started at center for the second time this season Monday and had 11 points, 12 rebounds and a career high-tying seven assists in a 109-98 victory at Philadelphia. He is averaging 13.2 points and 11.4 boards while posting five straight double-doubles.
Gasol is averaging 23.0 points with 10.7 rebounds in his last six games versus the Pacers.