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Pacers show fight, Lakers don’t and roll over again in loss

Jan 23, 2012, 2:16 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant Paul George AP

The Indiana Pacers know who they are — balanced and unselfish. They also fight. Down by 13 in the first quarter Sunday they come out in the second quarter throwing haymakers (and shoot 67 percent). Break Roy Hibbert’s nose and he’ll come back in the fourth quarter and give you eight points with the game on the line.

The Lakers could really use some of that fight. They are lacking it right now. It’s why Indiana won 98-96.

Los Angeles has one guy who fights back, but with the other Lakers standing around you end up with an avalanche of Kobe Bryant shots. He scores 33 against the Pacers, but it takes him 30 shots to get there.

There are guys on this roster that won back-to-back titles a couple years ago — and you don’t do that without a lot of fight in you. But with all the changes to the franchise and roster that fire seems to have washed away that fight. You see the fire in flashes, like against Dallas last week (when Derek Fisher won it on a late three) but more nights they seem to take the punches and not jab back. Personnel and age is part of that, but the Lakers are still trying to find their identity on offense and with that they seem to stop and think, or freeze, and not push back.

The Lakers came out hot Sunday night and that was pushed by Kobe, who had 11 points in the first. But it was contagious — Matt Barnes was getting breakaways, Pau Gasol was playing facilitator (he finished with 9 assists) and the Lakers had real energy. They were up 13 and it looked like they might cruise.

Then in the second quarter the Pacers started to come back — they shot 67 percent and behind nine points from David West (including a late three) that made this a game. That carried over in the second half, but what makes them tough to defend is the balance — six guys in double figures, Hibbert had the most with 18.

This may have been the best the Pacers have played this season (to my eyes). This is a win that should shut up anyone who has been questioning these Pacers credentials — they are good. Legitimately good. Not challenging Chicago and Miami on top of the East, but in the next tier. And they are going to be a tough out come the playoffs.

The Lakers, they show flashes of being very good and of what they can be, but it’s not consistent. Put together a strong quarter to come back like the Pacers did and the Lakers seem to become sluggish. Andrew Bynum maybe most of all, he seemed slow in this game. Almost disinterested. Metta World Peace had a good game Sunday, but he has been inconsistent.

The result is a team that expects Kobe to create everything. Part of it is personnel — they don’t have a lot of guys who can create, so it falls to Kobe — but Bynum and Gasol are not demanding the ball and attacking. Derek Fisher will not back down, but he is not a guy who should be playing huge minutes.

All that manifested in the final minutes of this game, when Indiana went on a 7-0 run as they knew Kobe would be all the Lakers offense, while the Lakers had no idea who to defend on the Pacers because everybody was making plays.

The Pacers are playing about as well as they can, and they are winning because of it. The Lakers may have a higher ceiling, but they are going to have to figure out how to reach it.

  1. crillbill - Jan 23, 2012 at 4:42 AM

    Kobe 7th best player in the league? Im not sure hes in the top 10 anymore. Seems like he has lost the respect of his teammates.

    • cinnalocks - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      That is dumb….. the 7th? Look at his assist the last couple of games and look at the passes he gives Gasol and Barnes. They do not handle the ball of make the basket, how many times do I keep passing it to incompetents. Years gone by someone would hit a shot, not this year. The problem is not Kobe it is the supporting cast that does not support.

  2. omniusprime - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    The problem with the Lakers is their pathetic coach Mike Brown. Brown has non clue about how to run a real NBA offense except to give the ball to the star player. While Kobe tries so hard the rest of the team falls asleep on offend and defense. Can’t blame Kobe for trying so hard but he’s not in his prime anymore and he needs Bynum, Gasol and Peace to step up to share the scoring load. Now defenses load up on Kobe and he’s shooting poor percentages. If the Lakers want to become a championship team again they have to fire Mike Brown and bring in a real coach. Too bad they let Brian Shaw and the old coaching staff go.

    • cinnalocks - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      Mike Brown is a good coach, takes time to learn his system. The Lakers have not changed the system in what 8 yrs and now in a short season they are supposed to master it. Plus Mike coaches defense, the Lakers never played much defense. Kobe needs competent, Hungry players and the Lakers do not have any. Gasol and Bynum never run, Fisher cannot run, Barnes and Metta Peace are not consistent and that is Kobe or Mikes fault..please.

  3. velascochad - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    the inconsistency of andrew bynum and his basketball IQ sometimes drag them down. dont get me wrong im a lakers fan. but based on my observation, bynum has the skill set of a big man but sometimes his decision making is inappropriate at times.

    and mike brown still figuring out the team. its like playing chess. he still cant master how to use the other characters aside from pawn.

    winning streak pls

  4. donttazemebro - Jan 23, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    it sucks to get d doesn’t it?And that’s what the Lakers are now.Fisher is what 37?Kobes only 32 but he’s been in the league for 16 years now and it’s taking it’s toll.Dwight Howard isn’t the cure either.The Lakers really needed Chris Paul but Emperor Stern said nay.Mike Brown isn’t the problem it’s father time that hinders them.

    • donttazemebro - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      it sucks to get OLD!Damned IPhone and my fat sausage fingers!

    • cinnalocks - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      They do not need CP3, he is hurt and has not played for the last 3 or 4 games so how would that help the Lakers with no CP3 or Gasol? They should get rid of any and everyone but Kobe, aquire D Howard and D Williams and get good hungry back ups. There are nine players on the Lakers team no one would miss if they got rid of them.

  5. zblott - Jan 23, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Pacers keep creeping up the Power Rankings and Lakers keep slipping down:

    http://www.behindthebasket.com/btb/2012/1/22/behind-the-basket-power-rankings-13.html

  6. metalhead65 - Jan 23, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    so where is all that bynum is the best center in the league talk now? first howard abuses him then roy hibbert with a broken nose shows him how it is done. stop making excuses laker fans your team is not playing well right now just deal with it. you are the reason people outside of l.a. hate the lakers. always on the bandwagon and talking smack when they are winning but point fingers and jump ship the min. things do not go your way. should they suddenly go a winning streak you will be back on here talking how great they are saying you knew they could do it the whole time.

    • cinnalocks - Jan 23, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      Metalhead, guess not much gets through that head huh? Lakers are one of the top ten teams in the league for the past thirty years. This is not a good year. And granted this is not a good team, but we knew that before the season started, based on the playoffs of last year. So what we are still better than 50% of the other teams in the league.

      One down year only means next year will be far better. Hate all you want….we will return to GREATNESS and that is what people like you dislike. Just look at all the Championship banners, Lakers do not even bother to post Conference Championships, they are irrelevant and small. Lakers are in it to win it and they have done a lot of winning over the years, METALHEAD!

      NO OTHER FRANCHISE OTHER THAN BOSTON CAN COMPARE when it comes to a HISTORY OF WINNING. Get over it and stop being a hard headed hater. Lakers are winners and that is hard to accept if you are a loser.

      • metalhead65 - Jan 23, 2012 at 3:36 PM

        who was hating? just pointing out the facts.look at the board where your fellow laker fans are blaming the coach and players other than kobe. but yea I do hate the lakers and their fans for their arrogance.hope they win just enough to make the playoffs as to not get a high draft pick. with the new rules let’s see how many superstars turn down the the 30 million more they can get from their teams to sign with “winners” like the lakers.

  7. cinnalocks - Jan 23, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    HATE ON METAL……………….Btw, where do you live, somewhere that has a great team like Milwaukee or Toronto? You are a winner.

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