Riding high off a pair of blowout victories, the Pacers (8-11) will be looking to win three straight games for the first time this season on Wednesday night. It won't be an easy task, however, as LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (9-9) make their annual visit to Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
The Blue & Gold's season seemingly hit its nadir last week, when the offense scuffled as the squad went winless over a three-game road trip. But Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle made a few adjustments over the weekend that paid dividends, leading to a 17-point win over New Orleans on Saturday and a 32-point drubbing of the Bulls in Chicago on Monday night.
Carlisle opted to move Justin Holiday back into the starting lineup prior to Saturday and the veteran has excelled in his new role, averaging 15.5 points and going 8-for-14 from 3-point range over the last two contests. But the bigger change in philosophy has been Carlisle's decision to call less plays and trust his players to play a faster, more free-flowing offense. The Pacers have scored 111.1 points per 100 possessions over their past two games, a stark contrast from their 99.3 offensive rating over the previous three losses.
The Lakers will be on the second half of a back-to-back when they visit Indianapolis, but James will not play on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The four-time MVP was suspended by the league for the first time in his career after he was ejected from Sunday's game in Detroit for "recklessly hitting" Pistons center Isaiah Stewart. James will sit out against the Knicks, but be eligible to return against the Blue & Gold.
James missed a couple weeks earlier this season with an abdomen strain, but recently returned. He has averaged 22.8 points, 5 rebounds, and 6.1 assists over eight games so far this season.
The Lakers have plenty of weapons in addition to James, of course. Eight-time All-Star Anthony Davis ranks 13th in the NBA in scoring (24.6 points per game), 12th in rebounding (10.6), and second behind Myles Turner in blocks (2.3). The Lakers also acquired former MVP Russell Westbrook this summer, and the nine-time All-Star is averaging 19.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 8.7 assists.
Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Caris LeVert, SF - Justin Holiday, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Lakers: PG - Russell Westbrook, SG - Avery Bradley, SF - LeBron James, PF - Anthony Davis, C - DeAndre Jordan
Pacers: T.J. Warren – out (left foot stress fracture)
Lakers: Austin Reaves - doubtful (left hamstring strain), Trevor Ariza - out (right ankle injury recovery), Kendrick Nunn - out (right knee bone bruise)
May 15, 2021: The Pacers hung tough with the Lakers, but the visitors pulled away late for a 122-105 win at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Caris LeVert had a team-high 28 points in the loss, as well as five rebounds and 12 assists. JaKarr Sampson added 20 points off the bench on 9-of-13 shooting, while Doug McDermott scored 17.
"We played hard all (game)," LeVert said. "We followed the game plan...Obviously they were a lot bigger than us inside (today). But we fought hard."
Anthony Davis led the Lakers in scoring with 28 points, while also tallying 10 rebounds and five assists. LeBron James added 24 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists in the victory.
- The Pacers had won seven straight home games against the Lakers, but Los Angeles snapped that streak with a win in Indianapolis last season.
- Carlisle has 189 career wins as head coach of the Pacers, one back of Larry Brown for second-most NBA wins by a head coach in franchise history. Frank Vogel, the current coach of the Lakers, holds the Pacers franchise record, amassing 250 wins from 2011-16.
- Four of the 11 active players named to the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team play for the Lakers: Davis, James, Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony.
The Pacers welcome LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers to Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 7:00 PM ET to tip off a three-game homestand. Find Tickets »
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), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)