The Lakers (13-4) played host to a struggling Indiana Pacers (8-7), a welcome home game after a tough loss in Utah. The Lakers have owned the Pacers as of late, winning eleven consecutive and have never lost a game to them at Staples. It’s a brief stay as the Lakers start back-to-back games on the road at Memphis and Houston.
Bryant came out the gates firing, hitting a free throw extended jumper over Brandon Rush as the shot clock expired on the first play of the game. Two trips later Bryant used his quickness advantage as he crossed over Roy Hibbert on the secondary break and finished the play after the contact, ultimately converting the three-point play. At this point one could tell Bryant was going to start testing Rush, as he started to get great low post position, then go to work. Making a couple tough shots, one where he felt Rush on his left shoulder right block, two dribble fade into the lane using his left and finishing over Hibbert. Kobe is great at using what the defense gives him, and took control of the defender with multiple ball fakes and drives to the basket. Bryant must have had three different shots in the first half that he converted after the initial bump. His body control is very exceptional, along with his mid range game. There were a couple tough floaters that he hit after numerous hesitation moves. Bryant connected on a three pointer from the top of the key to end the second quarter down five (52-47). He had 18 at half, but is need of help, as his bigs didn’t come to play. They got out hustled to the boards and let the youthful Hibbert have his way around the basket.
Not much changed in the second half as Kobe hit a few threes, converted an amazing drive to the basket reversed the lay up and finished on the opposite side of the rim. It was the perfect time for that shot because the fans needed something to cheer about, as he converted the three-point play. The Lakers were down by as much as fifteen in the third, so the kind of shots he was making were important. Kobe worked hard in the fourth, knocking down tough jumpers, scoring enough to keep the Lakers within a three point attempt at the buzzer to tie the game. This was a tough loss as it’s the second in a row and first time the Pacers have ever won in LA.
Kobe finished with 41 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, not enough to edge out the win. There was not much help as Odem scored 15 and Gasol struggled only connecting on 5 of 15. Roy Hibbert, one of the most improved players in the league really gave Gasol the fits. He finished with a team high 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. The Lakers look to rebound in Memphis (8-10) and get back on the winning track.