Based on the way the Indiana Pacers (22-20) have been humming since the start of the New Year, it would have been reasonable to expect a blowout win over the sliding Los Angeles Lakers (16-31) on Friday night at Staples Center.
As it turns out, the Purple and Gold had other plans.
Lou Williams kept L.A.'s offense chugging along with 27 points off the pine, and he was joined in double figures by four other Lakers scorers.
Chief among them was rookie and No. 2 overall pick Brandon Ingram, who dropped 10 of his 15 points in a third quarter that saw the Lakers outscore the Pacers 35-22.
Lakers Nation poked fun at Ingram's second-half scoring surge after he came out of the halftime locker room and scorched the net in blistering fashion:
Nick Young and Julius Randle added 15 and 16 points, respectively, while Jordan Clarkson came up big off the bench with 12 points, five rebounds and five steals.
Those contributions were needed, too, because D'Angelo Russell hobbled to the bench early in the first quarter and was later ruled out with a sprained MCL and strained right calf, according to Mike Trudell of the team's official website.
The Pacers didn't flaunt the same kind of offensive harmony, which was surprising since they were matched up against what ranked as the league's worst defense entering the cross-conference tilt.
Al Jefferson did some heavy lifting to the tune of 20 points in 17 minutes off the bench as he navigated and maximized every inch of space on the low blocks with precision, but all his production came in the first half, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:
Paul George chimed in with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, however that was hardly enough on a night when the Pacers didn't have the firepower necessary to keep up with Luke Walton's club.
And given the way the Lakers torched the Pacers, head coach Nate McMillan may be forced to take a hard look at his defense in the days ahead.
While their offense has generally been superb over the past three weeks, the Pacers defense entered Friday ranked 23rd with 110.1 points allowed per 100 possessions.
With a showdown against the Utah Jazz—who have won five straight—scheduled for Saturday night, the Pacers will need to make some adjustments in a hurry if they want to return home for Monday's game against the New York Knicks on a winning note.
The Lakers, who snapped their five-game losing streak Friday, will embark on a three-game road trip Sunday when they travel to American Airlines Center for a clash with the Dallas Mavericks.
Following the win, Ingram told Spectrum Sportsnet it was an honor to square off against a wing of George's caliber.
"Another dream … he’s a great player and I just tried to compete every second," he said, per Trudell.
And unlike their recent five-game losing streak, Walton was able to take comfort in the way his team hunkered down and locked up the Pacers.
"We got a win by playing our tails off on defense," he said, per Trudell.
On the injury front, Russell told reporters his knee "is a little sore," according to the Los Angeles Daily News' Mark Medina. The Lakers' floor general is expected to undergo further testing on Saturday.
As for the Pacers, McMillan told reporters he was disappointed in his team's sloppy play, as Fox Sports Indiana documented:
"It was my fault," point guard Jeff Teague said, according to the Indianapolis Star's Nate Taylor. "It wasn’t the right flow tonight on offense. That was my fault."
Stats courtesy of NBA.com.