Lakers-Pacers Preview


Many praised the Indiana Pacers as the biggest winner at last week's trade deadline.

They'll get their first chance to see their new acquisitions in action on Tuesday night as Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen are expected to make their debuts against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

On pace for the second 60-win season in franchise history, Indiana (42-13) has already cemented itself as one of the top contenders for the league title. The Pacers lead the NBA in both points allowed (90.9 ppg) and defensive field-goal percentage (41.3). Paul George has again elevated his game, ranking among the top 10 scorers with 22.7 points per game after finishing 25th last season.

However, a lack of scoring punch from the bench remains one of the Pacers' few weaknesses, especially given Danny Granger's injuries and overall ineffectiveness.

They cut ties with Granger last week, sending him and a future second-round pick to Philadelphia in exchange for Turner and Allen. It's not clear exactly how Allen will fit into a crowded frontcourt rotation that already sees David West, Roy Hibbert, Luis Scola and Ian Mahinmi play regular minutes. But Turner, who was leading the 76ers with a career-best 17.4 points per game, should provide a spark for the team's second unit.

Indiana's bench ranks near the bottom of the league with 25.8 points per game.

"I think he's going to help us tremendously," West told the team's website. "He adds a shot-creator and he's a big-moment guy."

The George-West-Lance Stephenson trio - which accounts for 51.4 percent of the Pacers' 98.8 points per game - could use some support behind it. Those three scored 33 of Indiana's 35 fourth-quarter points on Sunday as the Pacers held off league-worst Milwaukee for a 110-100 road victory. The Bucks pulled within six points in the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 22 in the first half.

"We've been in this position before where we've been up early and teams have been able to come back," said George, who scored 32. "That's an area where we've got to improve."

The Pacers have dropped three straight and four of five at home in the series, but took a 104-92 win in Los Angeles on Jan. 28 despite a 4-of-21 performance from George. West scored 19 while Stephenson had 15 points and 14 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Xavier Henry all remain sidelined for the last-place Lakers (19-37), while Pau Gasol has 38 points and 18 rebounds in two games since returning from a groin injury that kept him out for seven contests. Nick Young also had 10 points in 19 minutes in a 108-102 loss to Brooklyn on Sunday, playing for the first time after sitting out six games with a fracture in his left knee.

Los Angeles has lost three of four despite shooting 49.1 percent and 40.4 percent from 3-point range. The Lakers are averaging 19.5 turnovers in that stretch with opponents averaging 23.3 points on those miscues. The Nets tallied 20 points off 17 Laker turnovers on Sunday.

Kent Bazemore has been a nice surprise since being acquired last week from Golden State, totaling 32 points in his first two games for the Lakers after scoring 101 in 44 games for the Warriors this season.

Turner is averaging 19.7 points and 9.0 rebounds over his last three matchups with Los Angeles.