Russell Westbrook with the layup

Three Things to Know: Lakers at Pacers - 11/24/21

by Matthew Barrero

The Lakers (9-10) found themselves down by a game-high 25 points in yesterday’s matchup with the Knicks (10-8) but made things interesting in the third quarter. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, as L.A. would lose its third game on the road trip, 106-100.

Tonight, they’ll close out the five-game tour when they face the Indiana Pacers (8-11). Tipoff is set for 4:00 p.m. PT on Spectrum SportsNet.

Here are three things to know before tonight’s contest:

BLOCK PARTY
Entering Wednesday, the Lakers and Pacers are ranked first and fifth, respectively, in blocks per game (IND with 6.8, L.A. with 5.9) and first and third in total blocks (IND with 130, L.A. with 113).

Individually, Myles Turner and Anthony Davis are ranked first and second, respectively, in blocks and blocks per game. Turner has 58 blocks (3.1 per game) and Davis has 41 blocks (2.2 per game).

Davis has accounted for 10 blocks through the four games of the road trip thus far and utilized his seven-foot, eight-inch wingspan late in Sunday’s win over Detroit. On consecutive shot attempts by Cade Cunningham, Davis blocked his three-point attempt at the right wing and again under the basket when Cunningham repossessed the blocked shot and tried to drive for a layup.

The defensive stop gave the Lakers an important possession at the other end of the court to which Russell Westbrook drove toward the basket, drew three defenders and laid the ball off to Davis for the reverse layup, adding to the late lead.

Turner has been the league’s blocks leader in two of the last three seasons (2019 and 2021). In the 19 games played this season, Turner has recorded a block in every game and has had a season-high of six blocks twice.

DEFENSIVELY SPEAKING
In last night’s game, the Lakers found themselves trailing 10-0 two minutes into the contest and eventually were in a deficit of 25 points. In the 72-game season last year, Los Angeles had only six occasions where they faced a deficit of as many as 25 points.

In 19 games this season, they have already matched that total with two of which occurring on this road trip alone (in Boston and in New York). The Lakers currently rank 20th in the NBA in defensive rating (108.5)

Last season, the Lakers finished at the top with a 106.8 defensive rating and the year before that, finished third with a 106.1 defensive rating.

Avery Bradley was a part of the team two seasons ago and feels the team L.A. has now, needs to find a way play harder and more consistently on defense.

“We’re trying to figure out how to complement one another,” Bradley said. “We’re figuring it out every single game but one thing I can say is on the defensive end it’s about effort. Even if we make mistakes, we have to go out there and have that mindset and try to play as hard as we can every single possession.”

BACK-TO-BACK SPLITS
The Lakers have played in back-to-back games on two separate occasions this season (tonight being the third). The first occasion occurred when L.A. played in San Antonio and Oklahoma City at the end of October, and most recently when they played the same San Antonio team and Chicago at the beginning of last week.

Each time, Los Angeles split the back-to-backs, winning the first game but losing the second.

In the second half of back-to-backs, the Lakers are averaging 109.0 points and are shooting 48.0 percent from the field.

Tonight, would a reverse of previous fortunes, should the Lakers be victorious, given their loss in the first game to New York last night. It will also be the first time LeBron plays in the second game of a back-to-back (missed the first occurrence with an injury and last night to a suspension).

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