Lakers 99, Pacers 93

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- Very little Kobe Bryant. Still no problem for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers overcome the loss of Bryant in the second half to beat the Indiana Pacers 99-93 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday.
Former Pacer Metta World Peace had 19 points for the Lakers. Center Dwight Howard added 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Point guard George Hill had 27 points and Paul George added 20 points for the Pacers.
Bryant only played in the first quarter because of his left ankle sprain, which happened against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
The Lakers broke an 87-87 tie with less than two minutes remaining when Howard scored and was fouled on the play. Howard, a poor free throw shooter, made the free throw to put the Lakers up three.
David West missed on the Pacers' next possession and then Antawn Jamison put the game away when he made the Lakers' ninth 3-pointer of the game.
The Lakers were 9 of 20 on 3s.
The Pacers were fueled by their sold-out crowd and jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead off a Hill breakaway dunk and Lance Stephenson 3-pointer.
They led by seven points midway through the quarter and eventually by as many as 11 points late in the quarter. The Pacers could have led by even more, but their offense was stagnant, allowing the Lakers to easily defend.
Bryant, meanwhile, wasn't himself on the court. His first shot barely touched the rim and he lacked explosiveness getting to the basket.
The Lakers opened the third quarter trailing by three points, but took the lead, 25-23, on a Howard dunk off an assist from Steve Blake with 7:37 left in the first half.
They didn't stop there.
Blake followed with a 3-pointer. Then another 3-pointer to give the Lakers a six-point lead.
The Lakers eventually led by as many 11 points in the second quarter and by five at halftime.
Bryant's night ended at halftime. He went scoreless on four attempts, playing 12 minutes.
Hill got his offensive game going in the third quarter.
He scored 10 points in the quarter to help the Pacers overcome their halftime deficit and go up by six less than five minutes in.
The Lakers stayed strong despite the loss of Bryant.
They got to within one heading into the final quarter.
NOTES: Bryant went from being out indefinitely with a sprained ankle on Wednesday, to be a game-time decision Friday morning, to being in the starting lineup against the Pacers. Bryant arrived at the arena several hours before tip-off to test his ankle. The Pacers prepared as if Bryant would play. "He had a few comments early in the season about challenging some teammates to play hurt. I think if his ankle is attached to his leg then he is going to put his money where his mouth is and show that he can go out and play hurt," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said before the game. ... Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said power forward Pau Gasol, out with torn plantar fascia since Feb. 5, would play Sunday against Sacramento or Monday at Phoenix. ... Vogel defended former Pacer Dahntay Jones, the player responsible for Bryant's ankle injury. "He is not a dirty player, I coached him for several years," Vogel said. "He's a high-character person, high-character player, respects the game the right way and there's no way he would intentionally hurt a player."

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