LOS ANGELES – Heading into the season with expectations already high, sky-high, it’s impossible to imagine how the Lakers’ future might turn around in January’s game against the Indiana Pacers around in the basement of the Eastern Conference rankings.
And yet, every tear from Caris LeVert, every finish from Domantas Sabonis had huge consequences on Wednesday night, a sign of how precarious the Lakers’ season has become.
After a climactic convincing win over the Utah Jazz, the Lakers are up and down another slope to get back to earth in a 111-104 loss to Indiana, the latest setback in a tough season for them. Amid worries that Coach Frank Vogel’s job could be in serious jeopardy, it’s a tough look for a team that’s only been 6-9 since All-Star big man Anthony Davis injured.
Perhaps the most striking sight was off the field: Russell Westbrook, with his jersey unhooked, looked like he was dying as the Lakers finished the 3:52 final without him in the lineup. The 33-year-old finished fifth to 17 from the floor with 14 points, but being benched in times of crisis wasn’t on the 2017 MVP’s list. He was off the floor a few seconds before the game ended. ended, disappeared into the tunnel.
Either way, the Lakers (22-23) lost without him, taking a 35-24 lead in the fourth inning, which saw Indiana score 10 straight points. LeVert was penalized late, finishing with 30 points over Indiana’s offense.
LeBron James finished with 30 points for the Lakers, but he was the only starter outside of Westbrook in doubles. Talen Horton-Tucker scored 20 points in an impressive 9 to 14 shoot, while Carmelo Anthony had 14 on his return from injury.
Defensive Feisty again played a hot start for the Lakers, who contested shots and managed to take a 15-point lead in the second half. James went early, hitting six of his first eight shots, including a step back against the big Indy Sabonis (for whom he drilled an overtime dagger in November).
Even Westbrook, who had been cold for months, was surprised with early strength from behind the arc: He made his first three 3-pointers.
But again, the closing of the first half was a problem for the Lakers, who were cold to the switch to Indiana’s zonal map. While James had one of the final highlights of the second quarter with an alley backflip – one in which he had to duck to avoid the belt – Indiana made his final hit to cut the margin. down six points at the time of pause.
Those bleak conditions continued into the third quarter as Westbrook and James picked up just 2-10s in that span as the Pacers took the lead. After a month-long Achilles injury, Malcolm Brogdon helped elevate his squad with confident moves and play, finishing with 19 points and six assists.
https://www.sbsun.com/2022/01/19/lakers-lose-to-pacers-with-russell-westbrook-on-bench-during-crunch-time/ Lakers lose to Pacers to Russell Westbrook on bench during tense – San Bernardino Sun