X

Pacers Beat LeBron James, Lakers 105-102 as Anthony Davis Sits with Ankle Injury

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 17: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against the Indiana Pacers on December 17, 2019 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Ron Hoskins/Getty Images

Even without Victor Oladipo, the Indiana Pacers continue to impress.

Indiana extended its winning streak to four games with a 105-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers are now 19-9 after Domantas Sabonis led the way in the first of two matchups with the Purple and Gold this season.

An acrobatic finish by Malcolm Brogdon gave Indiana the lead with 36 seconds remaining, and LeBron James missed a potential go-ahead three on the ensuing possession. Rajon Rondo still had an opportunity to tie it at the buzzer, but his three-pointer rimmed out.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Malcolm Brogdon clutch buckets 😤 https://t.co/nTfIkJ2eBf

Fortunately for the Lakers, they are still sitting atop the Western Conference at 24-4 even though their seven-game winning streak came to an end with Anthony Davis sidelined by an ankle injury.

         

Notable Player Stats

  • IND F Domantas Sabonis: 26 points, 10 rebounds and four assists
  • IND C Myles Turner: 16 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals
  • IND G Malcolm Brogdon: 14 points, six assists and five rebounds
  • LAL F LeBron James: 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists
  • LAL C Dwight Howard: 20 points, six rebounds and two blocks

         

Sabonis Shines on National Stage

The Pacers deserve plenty of credit for remaining among the Eastern Conference contenders without their best player, and they have done so with a balanced scoring attack and stout defense.

Five different players are averaging double figures in the scoring department, and Indiana is fifth in the league in defensive rating, per NBA.com.

That balanced attack was on display again Tuesday with six players in double figures, but Sabonis was the best player on the floor for extended stretches. He extended his game beyond the arc, showed off soft touch on mid-range jumpers, spun free of defenders on the blocks and took full advantage of Davis' absence with multiple thunderous jams.

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

DOOOOMMMAAAAASSSS 😱

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

DOMAS IS DUNKING ON EVERYONE. NOBODY IS SAFE https://t.co/Of6H24rk23

Indiana Pacers @Pacers

P😤UND IT D😤WN @DSABONIS11 https://t.co/5bAk6Naw7T

Justin Termine @TermineRadio

Once healthy the Pacers will have a hell of a core to build around: Oladipo, Sabonis, & Brogdan...

Sabonis was also a willing facilitator when additional defenders came his way, making sure the Pacers continued the theme of involving everyone without Oladipo to lead the way.

While Sabonis has never made an All-Star Game, that could change this season if he continues to play at an elevated level. He had an opportunity to make a statement against one of the league's marquee teams, and he delivered in emphatic fashion.

         

LeBron Can Only Do So Much in Crunch Time Without AD

Though there are far worse situations than relying on James to carry more of the load on a given night, that is where the Lakers found themselves Tuesday with Davis sidelined.

Davis is an MVP candidate, the anchor of Los Angeles' defense and James' best pick-and-roll partner. But the King has done a little bit of everything this season even though he turns 35 years old this month. He tallied a double-double in his previous four games and entered play averaging a career-high and league-leading 10.7 assists.

Bleacher Report NBA @BR_NBA

Lakers winning streak on the road ends at 14 https://t.co/ao5kNEZtUH

The King wasted little time making an impact with more of the onus on his shoulders, finding Dwight Howard for a dunk with a beautiful behind-the-back dish and flushing down an alley-oop lob from Rondo in the first half.

He also took over the offense in crunch time, connecting with Danny Green for a three and Howard on a lob. However, Alex Caruso missed a wide-open look off a James pass, and No. 23 himself couldn't drain a clutch triple in the waning seconds that may have given his team the win.

NBA @NBA

"Showtime kinda plays..." LBJ flips it behind his head to Dwight! #LakeShow | @NBATV https://t.co/DdyCE5nwV3

NBA @NBA

Rondo finds LeBron cutting baseline for the REVERSE OOP! ✈️💪 📺: @NBATV https://t.co/RRNBFwP4nT

James still deserves credit for helping set up Howard for a number of easy looks, but it was clear the Lakers were without a key element with the game on the line.

Davis would have provided the spark they were missing.

             

What's Next?

The Lakers are at the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday in a high-profile showdown between two of the league's best teams, while the Pacers host the Sacramento Kings on Friday.