GAME RECAP: Pacers 110, Lakers 100

Myles Turner scores 21 points and grabs seven rebounds as the Indiana Pacers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 110-100.

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 110, Lakers 100

Myles Turner scores 21 points and grabs seven rebounds as the Indiana Pacers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 110-100.
Mar 19, 2018  |  00:01

Turner Comes Up Big in Return

March 19, 2018 - Pacers center Myles Turner returned from a sprained ankle and tallied 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting, seven rebounds, and two blocks in Indiana's 110-100 win over the Lakers.
Mar 19, 2018  |  01:48

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - March 19, 2018

March 19, 2018 - Pacers players Darren Collison, Victor Oladipo, and Myles Turner discussed Indiana's 110-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Mar 19, 2018  |  02:44

Oladipo Crushes It

March 19, 2018: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 19, 2018  |  03:13

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - March 19, 2018

March 19, 2018 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan speaks with the media following Indiana's 110-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Mar 19, 2018  |  08:12

Thad Finishes in Transition

March 19, 2018: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 19, 2018  |  02:53

Postgame: Lakers Locker Room - March 19, 2018

March 19, 2018 - Lakers head coach Luke Walton and players Brook Lopez and Lonzo Ball give their thoughts on coming up short in Indy on Monday.
Mar 19, 2018  |  02:09

Cory Finds Thad for the Slam

March 19, 2018: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 19, 2018  |  02:33

Turner Cleans Up Inside

March 19, 2018: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 19, 2018  |  02:11

Oladipo Closes the First

March 19, 2018: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 19, 2018  |  02:24

Phone Call Helps Bring Collison's Best Season

by Mark Montieth Writer

He turned 30 last Aug. 23, and knew it was time to make some changes. For an NBA point guard that's practically elderly, the beginning of a career stage when all those 20-something point guards threaten job security.

So, Darren Collison set up a telephone call with former NBA great Steve Nash. They both are clients of agent Billy Duffy, so it was as simple as asking Duffy to have Nash call him. Collison and Nash talked for about an hour, with Nash dispensing wisdom on everything from how to execute pick-and-rolls to a workout regimen to a healthy diet.

"It seems every night the point guards get faster and faster," Collison said. "He gave me some of his secrets.

"It's working thus far."

It's working to the degree that Collison's ninth NBA season is his best. Coming off the Pacers' 110-100 victory over the Lakers on Monday — a game in which he returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Feb. 3 and had a typical stat line of 15 points, eight assists, and exactly zero turnovers — Collison took over the league lead in assist-to-turnover ratio.

He entered the game with a ratio of 4.3 assists for every turnover, tied with Brooklyn's Spencer Dinwiddie. Collison's error-free game bumped his quotient to 4.4, while Dinwiddie slipped to 4.279 after producing six assists and three turnovers in the Nets' game against Memphis.

If you think all this isn't a big deal, you've committed a turnover. Put in perspective, Collison has committed four turnovers in the six games he's played since returning from arthroscopic knee surgery. The Lakers' 20-year-old rookie point guard, Lonzo Ball, had four turnovers on Monday.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Pacers' Playoff Push »

The Pacers don't play at a breakneck pace, don't shoot a lot of 3-pointers and aren't a particularly good rebounding team, so they need to make the most of every possession to compete with the elite teams. Limiting turnovers is vital to their offense and as well as defense, as many turnovers — especially those by a point guard — evolve into layups for the opponent.

Backup point guard Cory Joseph, who had started the 11 games Collison missed while recovering from surgery as well as the five games that followed, also "failed" to commit a turnover, and had three assists. Joseph, though, is primarily a defender and energy source who shakes up a game. Collison is the steady, controlled veteran who hits the shots that come his way, sets up teammates and gets the ball to the right one at the right time.

It didn't take long for the Pacers to be reminded of that, either, as Collison connected with Myles Turner for a 15-foot jumper on their first possession and again with Turner for a 3-pointer on their second possession. Turner, who returned to the starting lineup after missing Saturday's loss at Washington, also hit a driving layup on a feed from Collison midway through the quarter. That set the tone for a game in which Turner finished with a team-high 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds, passed out three assists, and blocked two shots.

Collison was in contention for joining one of the NBA's most exclusive clubs, the 50-40-90 guild that's reserved for players who hit at least 50 percent of their field goal attempts, 40 percent of their 3-pointers, and 90 percent of their foul shots. Collison is now at .499 from the field, a team-best .447 from the 3-point line, and a team-best .873 from the free throw line.

Missing three foul shots in last Friday's loss to Toronto most likely was too great a setback. At this point he'd have to hit 36 in a row to get to 90 percent. Even if he could do it, he only has 11 regular season games to go, and he only averages 2.3 attempts per game.

That's just fine with Collison, who has more important things to think about.

"I'm not going to even focus on it," he said. "People don't understand how hard that is. Eighty-two games? It's a very, very hard thing to do.

"I take more pride in getting my guys involved and making shots."

And there's no better role model for that than Nash. When Nash was 30, Collison's age now, he averaged 15.5 points and a league-best 11.5 assists in the 2004-05 season. The following season, at 31, Nash averaged 18.8 points and 10.5 assists and joined the 50-40-90 club by hitting .512 from the field, .439 from the 3-point line, and a league-best .921 from the free throw line.

Nash went on to play until he was 39.

"He was one of my favorite players to watch, because he's not athletic, he's not big, he's not strong," Collison said. "But when you guard him, it's the hardest thing to do because he just knows how to keep the defense honest in the pick-and-roll. He doesn't go fast, he doesn't go slow. He makes every read precisely. I've watched a lot of film on him, so I figured why not just call him and pick his brain?

"He took the time to call me and go over every single detail. It was real neat for him to do that and it's had a big impact. The biggest thing is, you've got to keep the defense honest. You can't look to pass or look to score. You have to read the defense and keep it honest."

As of Sunday's practice, Collison was scheduled to continue playing off the bench against the Lakers. But when it was determined Turner's sprained left ankle had healed enough for him to play again, Collison was put back in the starting lineup. Coach Nate McMillan wanted to regroup his original starting lineup, and thought Joseph was a better matchup for the Lakers' dynamic backup point guard, Isaiah Thomas.

Collison hadn't complained about not starting, but was happy to get back to it.

"Of course," he said. "My goal this year was to make sure I led this team as the starting point guard into the playoffs. That's my job."

Joseph likes starting, too, but didn't mind going back to the bench. He still played 29 minutes and 25 seconds, just a few minutes less than Collison, and played the entire fourth quarter while Collison played more than nine minutes of it.

The argument for starting Joseph was presented even while Collison was getting the Pacers' offense off to a good start, as the Lakers exploded for 37 points in the first quarter. With Joseph on the court, however, they had just 20 in the fourth period.

"Which NBA player doesn't enjoy starting?" Joseph said. "But I don't worry about stuff I can't control. Whatever the coach wants is fine with me. And Darren's a helluva player."

Now more than ever.

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Mark Montieth's book, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," covers the formation and early seasons of the franchise. It is available at retail outlets throughout Indiana and online at sources such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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