(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
3 Things to Know: Lakers vs. Pacers (11/29/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the Indiana Pacers.
1) Injuries have taken a toll on the guard rotation
The Lakers’ passing numbers have been significantly down since losing Rajon Rondo to a broken hand, ranking 29th in assists in their six games without him.
Another point guard injury threatens to compound that problem, as Lonzo Ball is considered questionable to play after suffering an ankle sprain in Denver on Tuesday. Even two-way PG Alex Caruso is dealing with an ankle injury, potentially leaving the Lakers thin on playmakers — though LeBron James, Brandon Ingram and Lance Stephenson have slid into running point at times this year.
And while Josh Hart may not be on the injury report, he has been hobbled by his own ankle sprain, averaging just 2.0 points over his last four games, while missing all nine of his 3-point attempts.
Having Lonzo available would be huge for the Lakers’ chances, but a collective effort will be needed to shore up the guard rotation.
2) The pace is throttling down on purpose
For most of the season the Lakers haven’t given any thought to slowing down their offense, ranking third in the NBA in pace though their first 14 games.
But with Rondo — one of the league’s best transition playmakers — on the mend, they have scaled back on that blazing speed, placing 19th in pace without him in the mix.
Coach Luke Walton said that dialing back the pace has allowed the Lakers to focus more on their defense, which has been impressive over that six-game sample, earning the league’s ninth-best rating.
And the slower speed has certainly not eliminated the Lakers’ ability to strike in transition, as they have still scored the ninth-most fast-break points since Rondo went down.
3) Indiana is a force, even without its star
Reigning Most Improved Player and Third Team All-NBA selection Victor Oladipo may be sidelined by a sore knee, but the Pacers still have plenty of weapons to work with.
Bojan Bogdanovic has been the league’s top marksman, shooting an NBA-best 53.5 percent on 3-pointers — including an absurd 60.7 percent from the corners. He is lethal even when run off the line, hitting 54.5 from mid-range as well.
And Indiana has apparently loaded up on efficient players, as Domantas Sabonis ranks second in field goal percentage (66.7) thanks to his crafty finishes largely out of pick-and-rolls. An early Sixth Man of the Year candidate, he is averaging a double-double (14.7 points, 10.0 rebounds) despite coming off the bench in all but one game this season.
But the hallmark of this Pacers club has been its team defense. Indiana is limiting its opponents to the league’s second-fewest points (102.2), while holding four of their last seven foes to fewer than 100.
Lakers: Lonzo Ball (sprained left ankle) is questionable. Rajon Rondo (right hand, third metacarpal fracture) is out. Isaac Bonga, Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams are on G League assignment.
Pacers: Victor Oladipo (sore right knee) is out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
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