NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 2nd (All times eastern)
Indiana Pacers (20-39) at Los Angeles Lakers (45-15), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers close out a brief three-game homestand on Tuesday by hosting the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers have never beaten the Lakers at Staples Centers, dropping 10 straight games in the building since it opened in 1999. In fact, counting the 2000 NBA Finals, Indiana is a miserable 0-13 against LA on its current home floor.
Most recently the Lakers improved to a Western Conference best 28-5 with a win over fellow Western Conference power Denver on Sunday. Lamar Odom finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and four steals off the bench in that one, as LA held on for a 95-89 win.
Ron Artest registered 17 points and six steals, while Pau Gasol had 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who were coming off a 99-90 win over Philadelphia on Friday. Los Angeles, which lost the two previous games to Denver this season, has won seven of nine overall.
Kobe Bryant continued to struggle offensively, shooting just only 3-of-17 from the field, but ended with 14 points and a game-best 12 assists. The Lakers' superstar is netting just 21.3 points per game on 42.7 percent shooting in four games since returning from a sprained left ankle.
"It was playoff intensity," Bryant said. "We made adjustments in the second half. Ron (Artest) did a great job on Carmelo Anthony. He earned his money tonight."
The Pacers, who are kicking off a four-game western swing tonight, are coming off an impressive 100-90 win over Central Division rival Chicago on Saturday. Danny Granger finished with 30 points and eight rebounds in that one.
Dahntay Jones and Troy Murphy each added 17 points for the Pacers, who avoided being swept in the season series. They had lost the three prior matchups with the Bulls this season, including a 120-110 decision in Chicago on Wednesday.
Indiana also snapped a three-game slide overall and won for just the second time in its last nine games.
"It definitely felt good out there tonight," Jones said. "I think we moved the ball well, using our small lineup and our reduction in number of turnovers. We have to be more consistent like this on a daily basis."
The Pacers, who have dropped five of their last six games away from Indianapolis, have beaten the Lakers in LA since Feb. 14, 1999, a 101-99 win at the old Forum.
03/02 10:32:29 ET