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Kobe Bryant Hits Game Winner to Defeat Pacers 88-87

Before he takes a rest tomorrow, Kobe Bryant showed the Lakers how to hold on to a win in the fourth quarter of a close contest against the Indiana Pacers.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers got off to decent start behind a bouncy Kobe Bryant (9 points on 4-6 shooting in the period), but didn't score over almost the entire last four minutes of the first quarter to give up a 14-0 run and let Indiana take a 28-15 lead into the second frame.

Behind some better play in the second quarter, mainly from Ed Davis (11 points on 50% shooting and 6 rebounds in the game) and Carlos Boozer, and a halftime buzzer beating three from Nick Young, the Lakers were able to end the half only down 48-41 despite shooting only 34.4% from the field. The Lakers also continued their strong foul drawing and making, knocking down 12-13 first half free throws (compared to Indiana's 4-4). All of these factors in combination with Indiana missing all 7 of their mostly open three point attempts in the second quarter allowed Los Angeles to keep a relatively ugly game close.

The Lakers went on a third to fourth quarter spanning 12-1 run that cut Indiana's lead to 71-68. The Lakers cut the lead to one with 3:00 to go in the game behind some buckets from (and MVP chants for) Nick Young (22 points on 4-12 shooting with 12-12 free throws), and a chippiness inducing scuffle between Carlos Boozer (12 points on 5-9 shooting) and Roy Hibbert.  Kobe scored the last 9 Lakers points (despite conceding at least two easy Pacers baskets on the other end) , including a baby hook in the lane with 12.4 seconds left for what would be the game winning basket after Hibbert (12 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block) missed a long jumper on Indiana's final possession.

C.J. Miles was good off of the bench for Indiana in the first half, but missed more shots in the second half and finished the game with a respectable 19 points on 7-18 shooting. He was the only strong bench performer for Indiana, as the rest of the Pacers reserves combined for 9 points on 4-11 shooting. Another factor contributing to the Lakers victory was that Indiana began the game 6-8 from three, but began to miss the still wide open threes the Lakers were giving them to finish the contest 8-28 from deep.

Los Angeles did not escape the game unscathed, as Wesley Johnson missed the entire second half and was declared out for tomorrow's contest at Portland with a strained hip flexor on which he will receive an MRI tomorrow. Kobe Bryant (rest) was also declared out for the contest prior to the beginning of tonight's game against Indiana, and the Lakers also announced between the third and fourth quarters that Julius Randle would undergo surgery to correct a problem with the surgically implanted screw in his foot. Despite that somewhat dark cloud of injury related news, this was a fun win for the team, who really seemed to enjoy themselves and play together, and we will see you tomorrow against Portland.

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