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Paul George

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February 25, 2014 — 4:00 PM (PST)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers take the show on the road as they take a quick road trip as they play vs. one of the Eastern Conference favorites, the Indiana Pacers (42-13)

The Lakers, cannot get away from injuries. F/G Nick Young, who returned Sunday to play his first game in 3 weeks, will sit out during this 2-game road trip as he felt some soreness in his knee that caused him to sit out.

Pau Gasol played very well Sunday, racking up another double-double by scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Meanwhile, newly acquired G Kent Bazemore has taken full advantage of Mike D’Antoni‘s offensive system, which has given him the green light on the offensive end for the first time in his career. Bazemore has surpassed his career high in points, scoring 15 and 17 points respectively in his first 2 games.

The Pacers currently follow “the rich get richer” motto. When the rest of NBA did not think the Pacers could improve their roster any further, the Pacers shocked everyone by acquiring 76ers best player, G Evan Turner and also C/F Lavoy Allen in a trade for F Danny Granger. 

Turner, who will make his Pacers debut tonight along with Allen, has had his best season so far this season for the 76ers, scoring a career-high 17.4 PPG, while grabbing 6.0 APG and dishing out 3.7 APG. Turner’s brings scoring firepower off the bench when he gives George and G Lance Stephenson a break.

With Turner’s acquisition, the Pacers won’t lose any scoring powers in the Shooting Guard and Small Forward position.

Pacers F Paul George has blossomed into a bonafide NBA Superstar. George plays both ends of the floor significantly well, scoring 22.7 PPG, grabbing 6.4 RPG, dishing out 3.4 APG, and take 1.8 SPG from his opponent which ranks him 8th in the league.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall / George Hill [Advantage: Pacers]
SG - Kent Bazemore / Lance Stephenson [Advantage: Pacers]
SF - Jodie Meeks / Paul George [Advantage: Pacers]
PF - Wesley Johnson / David West [Advantage: Pacers]
C - Pau Gasol / Roy Hibbert [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Pacers: F Evan TurnerF Luis ScolaG CJ Watson, C/F Lavoy Allen

Lakers: C Chris Kaman, F Jordan Hill, Marshon Brooks, PG Jordan Farmar

Bench Advantage: Pacers

Injury List

Pacers: Out-C Andrew Bynum

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-F/G Nick Young, Out-G Xavier Henry

Keys for Lakers Victory

Out-run the Pacers: Sounds very crazy thinking turning this game into a track meet with Pacers’ having young athletic players like George, Stephenson, and Turner. However, the Pacers do work best when they slow the game down and utilize F David West All-Star C Roy Hibbert. If the Lakers control the tempo of this game by playing they way that D’Antoni likes to, maybe they can catch the Pacers off-guard and make this game somehow competitive.

Bottom Line

The Lakers have to play almost perfect and the Pacers have to play very uninspired basketball for the Lakers to put themselves in position to win tonight’s game. The Lakers have to get off to an excellent start and hit their 3 pt. shots. Otherwise, this will be a very ugly game for the Lakers versus a team that views this season as their best opportunity to win a championship.

Prediction

Pacers: 109-96

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Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

January 28, 2014 — 7:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Los Angeles Lakers finally return from their 2-week Grammy’s road trip to play at STAPLES Center tonight. However, they will have to play the Indiana Pacers (34-9) tonight as a significant underdog. The Pacers have a very talented starting lineup and also an improved bench, especially with former All-Star F Danny Granger returning from a chronic knee issue.

Pacers F Paul George has blossomed into a bonafide NBA Superstar. Elected as an NBA All-Star starter this season, George plays both ends of the floor significantly well, scoring 23.5 PPG, grabbing 6.3 RPG, dishing out 3.4 APG, and take 1.9 SPG from his opponent which ranks him 7th in the league.

The Pacers also have 2 more potential all-stars on their team in C Roy Hibbert and G Lance Stephenson.

Hibbert, who many NBA experts consider as the best center in the Eastern Conference, makes his name as an anchor on the defensive end, blocking 2.6 shots per game, grabbing 7.8 RPG, and also contributing 11.9 PPG on the offensive end. His length and skills have made the Pacers the biggest threat to de-throne the 2-time NBA Champions Miami Heat throughout these last 3 seasons.

Stephenson has evolved from a bench-warmer to a potential all-star this season and also seems to be the probable winner of the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award. Stephenson has played this season much more under control and consistently, averaging 14.2 PPG, grabbing 7.0 RPG, and dishing out a team-leading 5.3 APG. Stephenson’s emergence has let Granger come back slowly by coming off the bench without any pressure this season.

The Lakers, meanwhile, have arguably had the worst defensive team in NBA history, allowing more than 100 points for every game in the year 2014 after their 1st game of this 2014 year. If the Lakers cannot get their act together on the defensive end, the Lakers will never become a winning basketball team no matter how much Head Coach Mike D’Antoni tries to improve its offense.

Projected Starters

PG - Kendall Marshall / George Hill [Advantage: Pacers]
SG - Jodie Meeks / Lance Stephenson [Advantage: Pacers]
SF - Wesley Johnson / Paul George [Advantage: Pacers]
PF - Ryan Kelly / David West [Advantage: Pacers]
C - Pau Gasol / Roy Hibbert [Advantage: Lakers]

Notable Bench Players

Knicks: F Danny GrangerF Luis ScolaG CJ Watson, Ian Mahimi

Lakers: Nick YoungG Manny Harris, F Jordan Hill

Bench Advantage: Pacers

Injury List

Pacers: None

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-PG Steve Nash, Out-PG Steve Blake, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar

Keys for Lakers Victory

Defense: Nothing to explain here. The Lakers have allowed 100 or more points in 31 out of 45 games so far this season, which. Before D’Antoni game-plans anything on the offensive end, he needs to shore up major deficiencies on the defensive end to have any chance of winning basketball games.

Bottom Line

Hopefully the Pacers play lethargically and play down to the Lakers level. The Lakers have to get off to an excellent start before the Pacers start getting warmed up. Otherwise, this will be a very ugly game for the Lakers versus a team that views this season as their best opportunity to win a championship.

Prediction

Pacers: 119-84

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