Friday, March 15th, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Game Preview: IND vs LAL

Scott Agness | Updated March 15, 2013, 1:30 PM

Matchup

After an abysmal start, which included the firing of head coach Mike Brown and the piling of losses, the Los Angeles Lakers have become one of the NBA's hottest teams. Contrary to what many folks outside the organization felt, the Lakers have put themselves back in the playoff race and currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Video: Lakers Shootaround »

As the Lakers make their way to Indy, they’re coming off back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday, in Orlando and Atlanta, respectively. The Lakers were winless on the road during the month of January, but they have since gone 7-5. Like the Pacers, the Lakers have struggled on the road this season against teams with a winning record. They’ve won just two of those 18 contests.

The Pacers have won the past two meetings. If they can make it three on Friday, it would tie for their longest ever in the series. Because of the brand name, star power, and way the Lakers are playing, Friday night in the Fieldhouse – a sellout – will be the place to be.

Montieth: Kobe or Not Kobe? »

Kobe Bryant is third in the league in scoring, averaging 27.5 points per game, but his status is in question after he severely sprained his left ankle in a loss to Atlanta on Wednesday. He is officially a game-time decision and the Pacers say they are preparing as if he’s going to play. In the past seven seasons, the Lakers are 14-8 in games Bryant has missed.

Agness Notebook: Pacers Prepping for Kobe »

Bryant has recorded 40 or more points in seven games this season, including November’s game against the Pacers in Los Angeles. Bryant, who averages 26.4 points in games against the Pacers, was named Western Conference Player of the Week last week. He was also named Western Conference Player of the Month for February. Safe to say he’s still a beast to be reckoned with – especially in crunch time.

What They're Saying: March 15 »

Dwight Howard will be a difficult cover for Roy Hibbert inside. Hibbert admits that Howard, who checks in at 265 pounds, is his toughest challenge in the league because of his strength and athleticism. Howard, who was traded over the summer from Orlando after eight seasons, torched the Magic on Tuesday - season-high 39 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks – in his first game back in Orlando.

One glaring weakness for the Lakers is their free throw shooting. Their percentage at the line, just under 69 percent, is last in the league.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Steve Nash

Steve Nash

Jodie Meeks

Jodie Meeks

Metta World Peace

Metta World Peace

Antawn Jamison

Antawn Jamison

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard

Injury Update

Pacers: Danny Granger (out, left knee)
Lakers: Kobe Bryant (game-time decision, left ankle), Pau Gasol (out, torn plantar fascia—right foot), Jordan Hill (out, left hip surgery), Dwight Howard (probable, torn labrum—right shoulder)

Quotable

“They said out indefinitely but that could be a 24-hour thing. We're preparing for him to play. I've been around this league long enough to know that Kobe Bryant, if he can walk, he's gonna play. And he walked off the court [Wednesday in Atlanta].” – Frank Vogel

“If anybody can bounce back from something like that, he can. We're going to prepare as if he was in the lineup and he was going to be playing.” – Associate head coach Brian Shaw on what he expects if Bryant can’t go

“He's the best center in the league right now. He's the king of the hill. He's strong, athletic, and he can score.” – Roy Hibbert on Dwight Howard

Noteworthy

  • Five of the last eight meetings have been decided by three points or less.
  • Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw played for the Lakers from 1999-2003, and won three NBA titles during that stint. He later won two more (2009, 2010) while serving as one of Phil Jackson’s assistant coaches for six seasons.
  • Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) played with the Pacers from 2002-06 and was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.
  • Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard were both starters on the West All-Star team that defeated Paul George and the East 143-138.

Last Meeting

Key road victorious have been scarce this season but the Pacers secured their first one against the Lakers, 79-77, on November 27. Down by one, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace each missed a pair of free throws in the final minute. George Hill’s floater put the Pacers ahead by three but Kobe Bryant responded with a triple. Tied at 77 with time running out, Hill’s layup over Howard fell to give the Pacers, who held the Lakers to a season-low 31.6 percent shooting, the victory.

Hill scored the final four points of the game and had 19 points. David West nearly finished with a triple-double - 16 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Bryant, who was under the weather and missed morning shootaround, scored 40 points, which accounted for more than half the Lakers’ points. Los Angeles starters Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Darius Morris went a combined 3-of-23 from the field.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »

TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Austin Croshere (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)/>

Ticket Information

Tickets are still available for Friday night's game. Find Tickets »

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