LAKERS VS. PACERS GAME PREVIEW
By MATT BECKER, STATS Senior Writer
Following a disappointing road loss, the Los Angeles Lakers seem to have a very good chance to get back on track.
They've never lost at Staples Center against the Indiana Pacers, who visit Los Angeles on Sunday night to open a daunting four-game road trip.
Los Angeles (13-3) appeared well on its way to winning its sixth straight game Friday, leading Utah by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, but the Jazz charged back and handed the Lakers a 102-96 loss.
Kobe Bryant had 31 points and Pau Gasol added 21, but Los Angeles shot a season-worst 26.7 percent from 3-point range and failed to reach the 100-point mark for just the third time.
"There will be some tough times on the road," coach Phil Jackson said. "The road is not always easy out there."
Los Angeles has fared much better at home, especially against the Pacers.
The Lakers, 8-1 at Staples Center this season, have won 11 straight games in Los Angeles against Indiana, their longest active home winning streak over an opponent. The Lakers, winners of 17 of the last 18 meetings in Los Angeles, last lost to the Pacers at home Feb. 14, 1999. They moved to Staples Center the following season.
It didn't really matter where these teams met last season, as Los Angeles outscored Indiana by an average of 22.5 points in winning both games. Although both Bryant and Gasol played limited minutes, the 12-time All-Star shooting guard averaged 26.5 points and 6.5 assists while the 7-foot Spaniard averaged 17.5 points and 14.5 rebounds.
Indiana (7-7) has played a league-low five road games but will nearly double that total this week.
After playing in Los Angeles, the Pacers, who have had only two road games since Nov. 4, visit Sacramento on Tuesday and Utah the following night before concluding the trip in Phoenix on Friday. Since the 2006-07 season, Indiana is 3-13 in those four cities.
"Going out West, we feel we can play with any of them," Indiana'sDanny Granger said. "We will give ourselves a chance to win."
The Pacers, 3-2 on the road, had plenty of chances to beat Oklahoma City on Friday but lost 110-106 in overtime. They led by 14 points early in the third quarter and by five with 2:02 remaining in regulation.
"We're confident we can play with anybody," said forwardJosh McRoberts, who had a season-high 13 points. "That's not enough. You've got to go out and win against anybody."
The Pacers have struggled to do that in games against the league's best teams.
Since Nov. 13, Indiana is 3-0 against opponents with losing records, but 1-3 against teams over .500. The Pacers' lone victory over a winning team was a 93-77 win at Miami on Monday.
Indiana lost Friday despite having all five starters score in double figures for the first time this season, with Granger leading the way with 30 points.
Granger, averaging a team-high 22.0 points, had little luck against the Lakers last season, scoring 23 points on 6-of-17 shooting in the two meetings.
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