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Lakers vs. Pacers Preview: Can L.A.’s offense get back on track against Indiana’s stout defense?

Coming off one of their worse losses of the season, the Lakers will try to rebound when they return to Staples Center to take on the Indiana Pacers.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After getting decimated by the Denver Nuggets in their last contest, the Lakers will return to Los Angeles looking to snap their two-game losing streak.

Up until their most recent rough patch, the team had been on an encouraging roll of late, including pulling themselves out of their early 2-5 hole in the win/loss column.

Currently sitting at 11-9, the team has righted the figurative ship, but has yet to find a comfortable level of consistency.

Despite giving up 117 points to the Nuggets in Tuesday's loss, the team’s recent turnaround has been mostly predicated on their improved defense.

In the month of November thus far, the Lakers are sporting a stifling defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 105.9, which is fifth-best in the league within that timespan, according to Cleaning the Glass.

Beside the obvious benefit of locking their opponent’s down, their defense has been an especially necessary development given their recent struggles on the offensive end.

After finishing October with a 113.3 offensive rating (eighth-best in the league) the Lakers’ scoring output has plummeted in November, as the Lakers have scored only 105.6 points per 100 possessions, 24th among the league this month.

Making matters worse, the team hasn’t just struggled mightily to score, but also to do the little things.

NBA: Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Lakers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest culprits for the team’s scuffling offense has been their inability to protecting the ball. Los Angeles has turned the ball over 16.2 percent of the time in November, which is only behind Dallas and Atlanta for the worst rate in the league this month.

For a team still trying to find their footing and learn each other’s tendencies on the floor, turnovers were somewhat expected, but ultimately are still net-negative offensive possessions.

And if turnovers were not bad enough, the Lakers also have continued to be absolutely dreadful from the charity stripe.

Currently 26th in the league in free-throw percentage (71.5 percent) the team has only one player (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) who is attempting at least one free-throw attempt per game and still shooting over 75 percent from the line.

The combination of turnovers and missed free throws simply has to make a head coach want to pull their hair out, which Luke Walton seemed to be nearly on the verge of doing after the team's recent loss to Orlando.

“It’s turnovers, it’s missed free throws. We’re killing ourselves,” Walton said. “This is a couple games in a row now. You lose a close game where you miss 11 free throws. Those are free points, you’ve got to step up and knock those down. You have 18 turnovers, they shoot an extra 14 times.”

If the Lakers are serious about recouping their offensive rating from October, or more immediately, just wanting to win their next contest against Indiana, they will need to make sure to put an emphasis on the intricacies of the game.

Turning the offense around against the Pacers will be no easy task considering that Indiana is currently in possession of the fifth-best defense in the league. Sitting at 13-8, and fourth in the Eastern Conference, Indiana continues to be a semi-revelation.

With that said, both squads will enter the game limping and possibly short-handed.

The Pacers will likely be without last season's winner of the Most Improved Player award, Victor Oladipo, who has been listed as “doubtful” due to a lingering knee injury.

On the Lakers’ end, Lonzo Ball has been listed as “questionable” after leaving Tuesday’s loss with a sprained ankle. Although his ankle was classified as “tender to the touch,” Ball seemed confident he would be good to go in the team’s match-up with the Pacers.

The Lakers will need Ball, and the rest of the team, to come out of the gates engaged and ready to do all of the little things if they want to beat the Pacers and get back on the right track.

The Lakers will take on the Pacers at 7:30 p.m. PST on Spectrum Sportsnet. All stats per Cleaning the Glass and You can follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexmRegla.

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