NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, January 27th (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (34-11) at Indiana Pacers (16-29), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A season-long road trip for the Los Angeles Lakers resumes tonight in Indianapolis, where the defending world champions renew a series with the Indiana Pacers that's seen some close finishes as of late.
These teams met twice during the 2008-09 season, with both games decided by two points or less. In the most recent encounter, Kobe Bryant capped a 36- point night with a game-winning jumper in the final seconds to give the Lakers a 121-119 win in Los Angeles on January 9, 2009.
One month earlier, the Pacers rallied from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to claim a 118-117 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse on Troy Murphy's tip-in at the buzzer. The win was Indiana's fifth in its last six matchups with the Lakers held in Indianapolis.
The home team has usually reigned supreme in this series, prevailing in 12 of the last 13 games.
Indiana is just 10-11 as the host this season, however, and has dropped its last two tests at Conseco Fieldhouse following Saturday's 10-point loss to Philadelphia. The Pacers were able to avenge that defeat to the 76ers in Monday's finale of a home-and-home set between the clubs, however, as Danny Granger netted 26 points to lead the way in a 109-98 triumph at the Wachovia Center.
The Pacers shot 51.8 percent from the floor as a team and outscored the Sixers by a 53-39 margin after intermission. Dahntay Jones keyed the second-half surge by scoring 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.
"We really got after [Philadelphia] in the second half defensively and were able to make things happen with our small lineup," said Pacers head coach Jim O'Brien. "We held them to 28 percent shooting in the second half and we forced them to settle for bad shots."
The Lakers come in off last night's 115-103 win at Washington, in both Bryant and Pau Gasol scored 26 points each.
Gasol added 10 rebounds and made 10-of-15 field goal attempts to lead a strong shooting display from Los Angeles. The Lakers shot 58.7 percent for the game and drained 9-of-22 shots from three-point range to improve their season record to 34-11, tops in the Western Conference.
"We played well and we didn't blow too many assignments, because it comes down to the execution," said Bryant. "We shot at a decent percentage from the field, and we forced some turnovers."
Wednesday's win came in the fourth test of an eight-game road trip for the Lakers that spans nearly two weeks. The team had dropped two of the first three tilts on the trek, including a narrow 106-105 setback to Toronto on Sunday.
01/27 10:41:12 ET