Game Preview: Pacers vs Lakers
Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 1:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
The Pacers (33-37) could see the return of LeBron James when the Los Angeles Lakers (40-30) visit Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Indiana's final regular-season home game on Saturday afternoon. It would be the superstar's third appearance in the last 28 Lakers games after dealing with a high ankle sprain.
Indiana has been no stranger to the injury bug this season as well — especially down the stretch. The squad battled tough against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night but eventually fell, 142-133, after T.J. McConnell and Domantas Sabonis suffered injuries during crucial moments of the match. While McConnell played through his thumb sprain, Sabonis exited with a left quad injury and did not return.
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The duo will be added to an already extensive injury report as the Blue & Gold face an impending Play-in matchup next week. Meanwhile, the Lakers, who trail the sixth-seed Portland Trail Blazers by a half-game in the West, are fighting to avoid the scenario. Earlier this month, James expressed his distaste for the new format, stating the idea's creator "needs to be fired."
It's safe to say that Los Angeles will be coming at the Pacers with everything they have. In addition to James, Indiana will have to find a way to contain NBA veteran Andre Drummond in the paint. The former UConn center has caused rebounding fits for Indiana in recent memory. In 32 career games played against the Pacers, Drummond averages 14.6 rebounds per contest. He recorded a double-double (11 points, 13 boards) in his only appearance against the Blue & Gold this year on Dec. 31 as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The play of Indiana's limited bench could be a key factor as well. Forwards Kelan Martin and JaKarr Sampson could hold the responsibility of limiting the effectiveness of Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell when they enter the game. The pair played significant roles in the Lakers' late comeback win against the Pacers earlier this season.
Pacers: PG - T.J. McConnell, SG - Justin Holiday, SF - Doug McDermott, PF - Oshae Brissett, C - Domantas Sabonis
Lakers: PG - Talen Horton-Tucker, SG - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF - Wesley Matthews, PF - Markieff Morris, C - Andre Drummond
Pacers: Aaron Holiday - questionable (right great toe sprain), Caris LeVert - questionable (bruised right knee), Domantas Sabonis - questionable (bruised left quad), Malcolm Brogdon - out (sore right hamstring), Jeremy Lamb - out (sore left knee), Edmond Sumner - out (left knee contusion), Myles Turner - out (partial plantar plate tear, right foot great toe), T.J. Warren - out (left foot stress fracture)
Lakers: Marc Gasol - probable (left pinkie finger volar plate fracture), Kyle Kuzma - probable (lower back tigtness), Alex Caruso - questionable (sore right foot), Anthony Davis - questionable (left adductor tightness), LeBron James - questionable (sprained left ankle), Alfonzo McKinnie - questionable (sprained right foot), Dennis Schroder - questionable (health and safety protocols), Jared Dudley - out (torn right MCL)
March 12, 2021: Holding an 86-74 lead with 10 minutes to play, the Pacers appeared to be on their way to a road victory against the Lakers. However, the hosts posted a subsequent 24-7 run, including 12 from Kyle Kuzma, to take the lead for good. Indiana eventually fell in a close contest, 105-100.
Malcolm Brogdon led the way for Indiana with a game-high 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting. Domantas Sabonis added a 20-point, 14-rebound double-double, and fell two assists shy of a triple-double. Doug McDermott added 13 in a starting role while Aaron Holiday tallied 10 off the bench.
Indiana limited LeBron James to 18 points on a 5-for-13 shooting night. However, they did not discover an answer for reserve players Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell, whose 41 combined points off the bench helped seal the win.
After Kuzma's spree helped give the hosts a 98-93 lead with 4:38 to play, neither team scored over the next 2:36 of game time. Brogdon's jumper at the 2:02 mark then brought Indiana to within three of the lead.
But Harrell's three-point play then pushed the Lakers’ lead to six. Sabonis attempted to lead Indiana to a late comeback, helping keep the game close at the free-throw line. However, with 9.9 seconds left and Indiana looking to tie, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope snagged Brogdon's inbounds pass intended for the big man and hit both free throws to seal the deal.
- Los Angeles has not won on the road against Indiana since the 2012-13 season.
- The Lakers have a chance to sweep the season series for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
- Lakers head coach Frank Vogel coached the Pacers as an assistant from 2007-11 and as the head coach from 2011-16.
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Please Note: Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.