The Los Angeles Lakers nearly blew an early lead again, but they were able to muster up enough strength to hold off the Indiana Pacers’ late-game rally and win 104-96 Friday at Staples Center.
The Lakers went up by as much as 23 points in the first quarter, the team’s biggest first-quarter lead since 2004, according to Lakers media relations. They started the game leading 13-0.
However, much like their last two games, L.A.’s energy leveled out after the first quarter and the Pacers were able to sneak back into the game, cutting the deficit to as low as one point with less than five minutes in the fourth quarter. Luckily, the star power of LeBron James was able to get them over the hump yet again.
In 38 minutes against the Pacers, James scored 38 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. He also ended the night with a game-high box plus-minus of +21. With Victor Oladipo out for the Pacers, the Lakers simply had more star power when it mattered, going on a 14-2 run towards the end of the game to ice things.
James’ supporting cast was also huge down the stretch. With the exception of Micael Beasley, every player that stepped on the floor for the Lakers finished with a positive box plus-minus. Considering how poorly they played in the second and third quarters, that’s pretty impressive.
Josh Hart looked especially good on Thursday, scoring 13 points on 6-7 shooting from the field and stealing the ball 3 times. Hart hasn’t looked like himself as of late due to a nagging ankle injury so it was nice to see the 23-year-old have a bounce back game. Hopefully his improved play is here to stay.
With a win, the Lakers improved to 12-9, good enough for the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers will be back at it on Friday when they take on the No. 8 seed Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center.
The Mavericks have won seven of their last eight games thanks to some stellar play by rookie Luka Doncic, so the Lakers will have their hands full on the back-to-back.
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