Lakers beat Pacers 122-99 for third straight win

Preview | Box Score | Recap

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Kobe Bryant(notes) is searching for his shooting touch five games into a return from injury. He still found a way to score, though.

Bryant had 24 points, hitting 14-of-15 free throws, and the Los Angeles Lakers pulled away with a dominating third-quarter run for a 122-99 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.

“I’m not trippin’,” Bryant said. “As long as I get good looks. Like tonight it felt good, some of them just didn’t go in. I got to the free throw line 15 times, the last time that happened I don’t even know. That’s kind of how you get your rhythm back, get to the free throw line.”

Andrew Bynum(notes) added 16 points and Pau Gasol(notes) had 14 points and 16 rebounds for the defending NBA champions, who fell behind early before improving to 14-0 against the Pacers at Staples Center.

Jordan Farmar(notes) scored 19 points, including 10 in the fourth when he ran the offense while Bryant rested his myriad of injuries.

The Lakers won their third in a row heading into a stretch of three road games in four days, capped by Sunday’s contest at Orlando, where they won the NBA title in June.

“On the road, it’s a different style of play, a different game entirely,” Bryant said. “We can’t take the game we played here at home and take it on the road, kind of have to adjust it a little bit. On the road you really have to execute.”

Troy Murphy(notes) had 17 points and 13 rebounds, Dahntay Jones(notes) scored 16 points, Josh McRoberts(notes) had 15 and Earl Watson(notes) finished with 10 assists for the Pacers. They dropped to 7-24 on the road and have lost eight of their last 10 overall.

“They dominated the inside and they got one of the two greatest players in the world on the perimeter and the rest of the cast isn’t that bad,” Indiana coach Jim O’Brien said. “That’s why they’re the world champions.”

Bryant nearly matched his career average of 24.9 points against Indiana, though most of his offense came at the line. He was just 5 of 14 from the field, missing all four of his 3-point attempts.

“He felt like his outside game wasn’t going well so he had to take the ball to the basket,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “You have to take care of yourself when you go to the basket a lot, especially when you’re injury prone. He found a way to play, which is very admirable.”

Bryant hit a 21-foot fadeaway to beat the halftime buzzer, keeping Los Angeles ahead 60-54.

That momentum carried into the third, when the Pacers closed to 62-61 before the Lakers took over. They went on a 35-10 run that produced a 98-71 lead heading into the fourth.

Derek Fisher’s(notes) 3-pointer gave the Lakers the game’s first double-digit lead, 75-65. Ron Artest(notes) and Lamar Odom(notes) hit consecutive 3-pointers, then Shannon Brown(notes) made two straight 3s before Farmar capped the burst with a fast-break slam dunk.

The Pacers dissolved in a series of miscues, with their seven turnovers leading to 10 points. Bynum and Brown came up with big blocked shots, too. Indiana’s offense broke down, with the Pacers making 7-of-20 shots in the quarter.

“They made good adjustments in the second half on offense and defense,” Watson said. “We never could counter quick enough in order to stay in the game.”

Fans began pouring out of Staples with nearly 6 minutes remaining. During a timeout, Odom and Gasol gazed at the overhead scoreboard checking out other NBA scores. Bryant spent the rest of the game on the bench along with the other starters.

After trailing most of the opening quarter, the Lakers got a boost from Brown, Farmar and Adam Morrison(notes) in the second. Their early scoring put the Lakers back in front, and Gasol and Bryant kept them there with eight points apiece.

Still, the Pacers were better at the line and from 3-point range in the first half, with Murphy already exceeding his scoring average by the break.

NOTES: The Pacers haven’t beaten the Lakers in Los Angeles since Feb. 14, 1999, when the Lakers still played at the Forum. … The Lakers’ 14-0 mark at Staples includes three playoff wins against Indiana. … Los Angeles reached 100 points for the first time since defeating Golden State 104-94 on Feb. 16.

Related Articles

Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Indiana
T. Murphy Troy Murphy
6-13,  17 Pts
13 Rebs, 2 Assists
 LA Lakers
P. Gasol Pau Gasol
6-11,  14 Pts
16 Rebs, 3 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

Scoreboard

Tuesday, Mar 2