Last year the Pacers defeated the Lakers at the buzzer at home and nearly beat them at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
What a difference a year made in this match up, as Kobe Bryant and company ran roughshod all night as they out played and more importantly, out hustled the Indiana Pacers in defeating them 118-96 before a capacity crowd that contained a large contingent of Laker fans.
From the start it was all L.A. as Andrew Bynum quickly took over inside and had a picnic in the post notching 12 first quarter points. Kobe Bryant hit his first five shots from the field and it looked like they would blow Indiana out early, but the Pacers hung tough and trailed by only three at the half, 56-53.
Los Angeles would shoot 55 percent in the third quarter and behind Bryant’s 13 points led 92-78 heading in to the final stanza.
L.A. would put it on cruise control in the fourth to outscore the Pacers 26-18, and pick up their second victory in as many nights, after downing Washington the night before.
Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles with 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Andrew Bynum added a season high 27 points to go along with 12 boards. Pau Gasol chipped in 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Lakers out rebounded the Pacers by a whopping 62-42. Roy Hibbert had 21 points, while Troy Murphy added 18, as Indiana fell to 16-30 on the year, with a record of just 10-12 at home at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Notes: With the victory the defending champion L.A. improved their record to a robust 35-11.
Former Pacer Ron Artest played just 23 minutes and is obviously having trouble with his feet. Artest is struggling with plantar fasciitis and Laker Coach Phil Jackson thinks his shoes may be to blame. Artest wears a Chinese product called Peak Shoes and Jackson compared them to concrete boots that were made for the Hudson River. Jason Kidd of Dallas also wears the new shoe.
While he continues to struggle with his outside shot, Brandon Rush grabbed a team high 11 rebounds.
Chuck Person is now a coaching consultant for the L.A.
The former Pacer works great with the team in regard to perimeter shooting techniques. He was displaying the infectious smile that he was famous for during his tenure here in Indiana and looked great. Person made it clear it would like an opportunity to be a head coach in the NBA someday.
Several members of the AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts were on hand to view the game, including Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Robert Mathis. Needless to say they all had great seats to the sold out game. I wonder how that happened?
There were ton of folks wearing L.A. jerseys in the crowd and they were indeed vocal. The cheered every move Bryant made and chanted “MVP” late in the game as Bryant smiled.
The Pacers will battle Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 29 at Conseco Fieldhouse. As of today there were just a few tickets left for this game and they can be obtained through the Fieldhouse Box Office at (317) 917-2727 or purchased online at Ticketmaster.com. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and will also be televised on Fox Sports Indiana.
Danny Bridges, who really likes Artest’s shoes, but is still wearing old school Converse Chuck Taylor white high tops, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.