…at least not in the second half, where they have habitually unraveled for the greater part of this season. Is it because they’re gassed? Perhaps; they could be on a 9-man rotation. Is it because the opponent adjusts after halftime? Maybe so, but for the most part, the opponents aren’t the ones who transform before the third quarter and even if they did, who’s stopping the Lakers from adjusting right back?
After a long road trip in which they went just 2-5, it was cruel to come back and play the first home game after two weeks against the might Indiana Pacers. Whoever said they bet on the Lakers to win tonight was lying. They weren’t expected to win. Heck, they weren’t even expected to put up as good of a fight as they did in that first half, but they did. And that’s the most frustrating thing about this team – they start more than just well.
The second half, as per usual, played out the exact opposite of the first and, as predicted, the Lakers lost, 104-92.
The high points and low points are the same as they have been for a while. Clearly they’ve never heard of the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
First-Half Defense – The Lakers’ defense was relatively active in the first half, allowing just 40% shooting for the Pacers, and 49% shooting themselves. Against the best defense in the league, a 49-point tie at halftime wasn’t a bad thing at all. They also kept All-Star Paul George at a very uncharacteristic five points on 2-9 from the field and just three rebounds.
Pau Gasol – Gasol continued his string of productive games with a 21-point, 13-rebound effort. He went 10-19 from the field and, despite aggravating his groin and having to enter the second half late, he still managed to chip in what he did. For all the failed trade attempts, for all the vitriol he’s received for playing the type of game that he does, Gasol is the hardest working player on this team who has every right not to be.
Jodie Meeks – Helping to carry the load has been Meeks. He had 21 points tonight, despite a less than stellar shooting effort. He went just 2-8 from three, and 7-16 from the field in total.
Kendall Marshall – This Carolina product didn’t do much of the scoring himself (just 11 points on 5-11), but he handed out 13 assists. Unfortunately, 12 of those assists came in the first half.
Turnovers – It was a cleanly-played game for the Lakers tonight, with just nine turnovers, a far-reach from their 20+ turnover games. Unfortunately, it’s one of many issues still unresolved.
Second Half – After keeping pace with the Pacers (pun totally intended) in the first half, the Lakers came into the third quarter and did what they usually do – fall on their rear ends. Indiana scored six straight points before the Lakers could score their first after the break and with a three from George to end that third period, the lead was 10 going into the fourth. The Lakers shot just 28% in that third quarter, while the Pacers enjoyed a 54% shooting percentage. The fourth quarter was no better. Despite Indiana shooting just 35% in the final 12 minutes, they still managed to lead by as much as 16 points because the Lakers shot just 33% in the fourth.
Chris Kaman - What in the world did Chris Kaman do to get on Mike D’Antoni’s bad side? Against a team who clearly has some size, Kaman, for the upteenth time this season, sat on the bench and ended his night with a DNP-Coach’s Decision next to his name on the box score. Even after Gasol aggravated his groin in the first half, he still came in and played significant minutes in the second half. Perhaps Kaman could have done some good, being that he’s a solid scorer and all.
Rebounds – 63-50 boards, in Indiana’s favor. 17 of those 63 were offensive rebounds that provided them with 20 second-chance points.
Kobe Bryant – Even when he’s not active, he makes news, and today he was news of the bad kind. Reports are that Bryant will have to be out for at least another three weeks.
After two weeks and seven games on the road, the Lakers’ first game back came on the birthday of the late, great Jerry Buss. Dr. Buss would’ve been 80 years old today. What a sad way to celebrate one of the most, if not the most, important man in the Lakers’ successful history. The way this team has suffered from injuries (148 total games missed by players this season) and all the losing that has enveloped this season, the Lakers and their front office have to ask themselves – W.W.J.D. – What Would Jerry Do?