Lakers 96, Pacers 98: Open 24/7! (We Never Close)

The Los Angeles Lakers lost their 3rd straight game by a final score of 98-96 to the Indiana Pacers. It was a familiar refrain; not the one where they get blown out by an obviously superior team, but the one where the Lakers lose a close game because this team has zero ability to close out a ballgame. Tonight, Derek Fisher's 15 foot jumper put the Lakers ahead by 3 with 2 minutes to play, but it was the last meaningful basket the Lakers would score, as Indiana rattled off the next 7 points to snatch victory from the dentures of defeat (GET IT? CAUSE THE LAKERS ARE OLD AND THEIR GRIP IS WEAK!). First, it was a missed Pau Gasol jumper (he was 4-12 on the night, though he did find other ways to contribute). Then, Kobe passed out of a double team to an open Matt Barnes who predictably missed an open three pointer. Then, after an Indiana turnover gave the Lakers the ball with a chance to attack and 30 seconds to play, Kobe mysteriously held the ball up, waited for the double team, passed out to Derek Fisher, and then watched as Fisher stumbled towards the basket and threw up a lob pass that was so unexpected Andrew Bynum didn't even bother jumping (to be fair to Drew, Darren Collision was stumbling near Drew's unmentionable area (his knees). Kobe completed the quad-fecta of terrible by launching a 30 foot fade away contested three in search of the tie which could only draw back iron. Another awesome example of what has to be the worst team in basketball down the stretch.

The loss will no doubt place a lingering stench on what was otherwise a promising step in the right direction for a team that has had little go right in the past week. The offense put up more points than in the last 4 games, the bench provided more scoring punch than we've seen in some time, and Pau Gasol provided highlights aplenty with his passing, including what I maintain is one of the best passes I've ever seen in a live NBA game. I'd put the video in the recap, but YouTube has failed me like the Lakers have failed us all. A fitting end to the night, sadly.

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