INDIANAPOLIS – In his pre-game press conference, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle joked that his team had the “bad luck” of facing a Lakers team led by a “fresh” LeBron James, who returned from a one-game suspension Wednesday night. Anthony Davis had the flu, but even in his absence Indiana still had her hands full with James.
After Pacers rookie Chris Duarte buried a 3 to send the game into overtime, it was James who made play after play in extra period to lead the Lakers to a 124-116 victory. Here is what stands out:
Cover 3 by Chris Duarte
Duarte had the biggest shot of his young career when he landed a 3-point corner just in front of the Lakers bench to tie the score at 112 with 6.5 seconds left. He finished with three 3s and 17 points, but no bucket was more eye-catching than this one.
“He’s not afraid,” Carlisle said. “He has high abilities and skills, and he shoots with a lot of distance.”
James missed a potential 3-point winner on the possession buzzer that followed, but dominated in overtime to lead his team to victory.
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The game was tied at 114 with just under three minutes left in overtime when James rolled a 3 over Domantas Sabonis to put his side ahead. Moments later he drilled another 3 points to extend the lead to 120-114 with 1:52 left in the extra period. The 17-time all-star delivered the final dagger with a flipping jump over Brogdon with 41.2 seconds left to reach 122-116.
“He’s one of the greatest players of all time,” said Brogdon. “He’s been in this situation a thousand times, so he’s not going to hesitate (far) from the moment, and I think that’s what we went through (Wednesday). He made some tough shots.”
James scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and also had five rebounds and six assists in the game.
Brogdon had a record 28 points and was one of seven Pacers players to score in double digits.
While James single-handedly wanted his team to win, the Pacers went freezing during extra time. Indiana shot just 2 of 11 in the extra period and 0 of 6 from behind the arc. Brogdon was the only Pacers player to take a shot in overtime, completing a mid-range jump shot and layup.
“They increased their defense, their intensity, their ball pressure,” said Brogdon. “I thought we were playing a little too slow. I think we are better when we play fast.… They were able to prepare and stop.”
Wayne “Weezy” Ellington
Indiana led 91-82 early in the fourth quarter after a Caris LeVert layup, but the Lakers had a Wayne Ellington-powered 9-2 run to tie the game at 93. Ellington, who has been dubbed ” Weezy ”by James and his teammates, made two 3s during this stretch.
He finished the game with four 3s and 14 points.
“Weezy, he took it from the 3 point line,” said James. ” … It was fantastic.”
Hall of fame
Even without Davis, the Lakers still had a host of future Hall of Fame members to lean on for James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.
James made five 3s in a game for the third time this season, Westbrook had 20 points and seven rebounds, Anthony had 14 points off the bench and Howard also contributed as a reserve with eight points and nine rebounds.
“I was watching (the Lakers) on a show, it was two games back or it could have been three games back.” Carlisle said before the game. “The broadcaster was saying they probably had five and maybe six Hall of Fame players on this team, which is really unreal.”
Anthony, Davis, James and Westbrook were all named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary squad as four of the 75 greatest players in league history.
LA Lakers 124, Indiana 116
LA LAKERS (124): Horton-Tucker 3-10 2-2 8, James 13-29 8-9 39, Jordan 2-5 0-0 4, Bradley 0-1 0-0 0, Westbrook 5-15 9- 11 20, Anthony 4-13 4-5 14, Howard 4-4 0-0 8, Ellington 5-7 0-0 14, Monk 6-11 2-2 17. Totals 42-95 25-29 124.
INDIANA (116): Holidays 5-15 2-3 16, Sabonis 5-9 4-4 14, Turner 4-10 3-3 12, Brogdon 9-21 5-6 28, LeVert 5-13 0-0 10, Craig 2-6 3-4 7, Duarte 7-18 0-2 17, Martin 1-4 0-0 2, McConnell 4-8 2-2 10. Totals 42-104 19-24 116.
LA Lakers 26 34 22 30 12 – 124
Indiana 31 35 18 28 4 – 116
3 Point Goals — LA Lakers 15-37 (James 5-12, Ellington 4-6, Monk 3-6, Anthony 2-7, Westbrook 1-3, Horton-Tucker 0-2), Indiana 13-46 (Brogdon 5-10, Holiday 4-12, Duarte 3-10, Turner 1-6, LeVert 0-3, Martin 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_L.A. Lakers 52 (Jordan 11), Indiana 52 (Sabonis 12). Assists_L.A. Lakers 20 (James 6), Indiana 25 (McConnell 8). Total faults_L.A. Lakers 21, Indiana 25. A_15.572 (20,000)