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Lakers vs. Pacers Preview: Kobe Bryant's final game in Indiana, where he won his first title

The Lakers have looked more competitive recently and hopefully carry forward some of that into Indiana.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are closing out their last set of games strong as they head into All-Star weekend, winning two of their last three and putting up a competitive 48 minutes in San Antonio. Next up, Paul George and the Indiana Pacers, who remain one of the best defensive teams in the NBA despite major roster changes.

The biggest, of course, is the departure of Roy Hibbert in the middle. Indiana drafted their big man of the future in Myles Turner, and he's picked up his play after missing extended time because of a hand injury. Turner is averaging 16.1 points per game on 54.9 percent shooting over the last 11 games, showing the makings of a capable inside scorer as he develops.

The show still belongs to George, though, who leads the team in scoring while shooting 39 percent from long range. His return to form after breaking his leg during a Team USA exhibition has been without a hitch, and he once again looks like one of the best wings in the NBA. Going from Kawhi Leonard to George won't make for an easy night on the Lakers perimeter players.

Kobe Bryant's taken a heavier load on offense while he's in, though his minutes have seen an increase in the process. Kobe's averaged 32.7 minutes while taking 24.3 field goal attempts per game over the last three contests, a noticeable spike after taking a more cautionary approach through most of January. This will be his last game in Indiana, where he won his first title back in 2000.

Julius Randle is expected to play after tweaking his ankle against the Spurs, while Hibbert is considered questionable. Enjoy the game, with a reminder that this will be an early tipoff.

Time: 4 p.m. PT


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