The Los Angeles Lakers have been the biggest enigma of the 2012-2013 NBA season.
Soon after Mike Brown was fired because of the team’s 1-4 start, L.A. won five out of six games. When it looked like the Lakers were finally turning things around, they lost two straight in convincing fashion, including one to the Sacramento Kings, the worst team in the Western Conference.
In the Lakers last game, they blew out the Dallas Mavericks in a 115-point effort. Just when it looked like Los Angeles was having trouble adjusting to Mike D’Antoni’s offense, they played their best game of the season.
Which team should Lakers fans expect to see on Tuesday night against the Indiana Pacers?
L.A. is set to host Indiana at 10:30 p.m. ET at Staples Center. You can watch a live stream online by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband.
The offensive outburst from the Lakers could be a sign that the players are adjusting to their head coach’s system. The team got a lot of open looks and finished the contest with a balanced scoring effort. Kobe Bryant was among three Lakers to lead the team with 19 points.
The other two scoring leaders came from unlikely sources. Antawn Jamison and Metta World Peace shot a combined 14-for-21 from the field, playing their best games of the season. The high shooting percentages from both players might not be something L.A. can expect on a consistent basis.
Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard remained only ancillary parts of L.A.’s offensive attack. Neither player has scored more than 20 points in the past four games.
Without a big time point guard, the big men haven’t been able to get as many touches as they would have liked. D’Antoni had been optimistic that at least one of the team’s injured point guards would be ready to return on Tuesday, but that won’t be the case. Bothe Steve Nash and Steve Blake will remain sidelined, leaving Darius Morris in the starting lineup.
The Pacers will look to take advantage of the Lakers lack of a floor general. They’ve done a good job of stopping teams that don’t have a quality point guard. Overall, Indiana has been the fourth-best defensive unit in the league, allowing 92.2 points per game.
In the absence of top scoring option Danny Granger, the Pacers have relied on their defense to win games. They’re only putting up 91.2 points per contest, which has led them to a 6-8 record.
Indiana’s inability to score gives Los Angeles a decided advantage in this one. They are 7.5-point favorites at most Las Vegas sportsbooks. However, they could have trouble with the team that almost beat the Miami Heat in the second round of last year’s playoffs.
Los Angeles is averaging over 100 points per game, with Bryant being the biggest reason for their offensive success. He leads the league in scoring, shooting 51 percent from the field. If the Pacers can slow him down, L.A. might have trouble finding another player to pick up the slack.
With Roy Hibbert and David West in the frontcourt, the Pacers are one of the few teams that can matchup with the Lakers big men. Don’t expect this to be the day that Howard and Gasol break out offensively. Indiana is also the top rebounding team in basketball.
Despite the Pacers toughness on the boards and defense, this is a game the Lakers should win. They are a much better team at home, and Indiana simply doesn’t have enough weapons on offense. It might be a close one, but L.A. should move above .500.
Prediction: Los Angeles 92, Indiana 88