Game Rewind: Pacers 115, Lakers 122

Game Recap

With the Pacers (33-38) still undermanned and Play-In seeding on the line, the Los Angeles Lakers (41-30) came into Bankers Life Fieldhouse locked, loaded, and looking to avoid the Western Conference Play-In.

Despite a gritty effort from the Blue & Gold, the return of Anthony Davis and LeBron James caused a size problem that Indiana simply could not overcome. The Lakers walked away with a 122-115 victory. The loss means that Indiana cannot finish higher than ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings. They will face either the Charlotte Hornets or the Washington Wizards in the Play-In. Home-court advantage will be on the line when Indiana faces the Toronto Raptors tomorrow afternoon.

“We played hard all (game)," Caris LeVert said after his 28-point performance. "We followed the game plan…Obviously they were a lot bigger than us inside (today). But we fought hard."

After staying on L.A's heels for the majority of the game, Indiana strung together an 11-0 run late in the fourth to trim its deficit to 111-108 with 3:07 to go. But James then proved why he's a superstar. The veteran led a personal 7-2 run to deflate Indiana's sails down the stretch. He finished with 24 points, seven boards, and eight assists. Davis, who was a problem all afternoon, finished with a team-high 28.

Six Pacers players finished in double-figures in the effort. LeVert added 12 assists to record his third double-double in his last six outings. JaKarr Sampson finished with 20 points – his best performance as a member of the Pacers – off the bench, while Doug McDermott tallied 17. Sampson, along with Oshae Brissett, Goga Bitadze, and Kelan Martin played valuable minutes against the Lakers' veteran front line of James, Davis, and Andre Drummond.

"It's big-time," Sampson said of playing against the trio. "I think it's just making our bench deeper as our guys get healthy."

Early in the first, the squads battled neck-and-neck. After falling behind 5-0, Indiana used an 8-1 run, including six straight from McDermott, to take a two-point advantage at the 8:57 mark.

But the squad’s lack of size on defense showed its face for the first time. The Lakers used three alley-oop slams over Indiana’s small forwards to regain a 15-11 lead and force a timeout with 6:47 left.

LeVert's first bucket of the game, a jumper in the paint, cut the Lakers' lead to 19-17. However, Davis responded with six straight to stretch L.A's lead to 25-17 with 3:34 remaining. Sampson's powerful one-handed slam over Kyle Kuzma stopped the surge with emphasis and forced a Lakers timeout.

Down the stretch, the Blue & Gold still had troubles stopping the former Kentucky forward. Davis rattled off nine more points for L.A. to push its lead to 31-21 at the 1:36 mark. Thankfully, a small offensive spurt from Indiana helped keep the Lakers' lead to single digits, 36-28, as the quarter closed.

A 10-4 Indiana run, including six straight from Sampson, helped Indiana's reserves cut the Lakers' lead to 40-38 at the 8:35 mark in the second. Sampson and the Pacers' bench showed increases in hustle and energy, leading to the spree.

The foes then notched nine straight to extend their lead back to double-digits, 49-38. But LeVert then caught fire from the floor. The former Michigan star responded swiftly, knocking in a jumper and two triples for a personal 8-0 run to pull the Pacers to within three of the lead with 5:38 remaining.

Using his size, Davis bullied his way into several trips to the charity stripe to maintain a small Laker lead. A jumper from LeVert, followed by 2-of-3 free throws from McDermott then brought the score to 56-52 with 1:50 to go.

However, L.A. began capitalizing in the paint once again. Consecutive three-point plays from James and Drummond pushed the Lakers' lead to 62-52. Indiana was able to trim the lead to 64-56 before the break.
After Davis started the third with another alley-oop dunk, Indiana rattled off seven straight to cut the deficit to 66-63 at the 9:51 mark. But James and Davis helped L.A. earn a 78-70 advantage with 7:10 left in the frame.

After LeVert's layup brought Indiana back to within four, the Lakers' responded with threes from Talen Horton-Tucker and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope's steal-and-slam then pushed the visitors' lead to 86-75 with 4:49 to play.

The story remained the same until end the third. Indiana's offense kept pace with the top performers of the Lakers. However, they continued to struggle to stop L.A. on the defensive end. Sampson's final bucket of the day trimmed L.A.'s lead 96-88 heading into the final frame.

After sporting zero points through the first three frames, Kuzma found a spark for L.A. Five straight for the forward helped propel the Lakers to a 104-90 lead early in the fourth.

Over the next few minutes, Indiana kept up the pressure but could not chew into the lead. Multiple trips to the free-throw line for L.A. helped keep a 111-97 lead with 7:19 to go. 1:04 later, Indiana cut the lead to 11 behind a wide-open three from Martin. He finished with 12 fourth-quarter points.

From there, the squad ignited. The triple initiated a run of 11 unanswered to trim the Lakers' lead to 111-108 with 3:07 to go. The run included several gritty defensive stops, including steals from T.J. McConnell and a block by Bitadze on James.

However, James got revenge on the squad, taking over to seal the deal. The superstar found buckets on three consecutive possessions to help L.A. take control one last time.

Martin's trey at the 1:38 mark brought Indiana to within 118-113. However, they could not sink the bucket needed to cut into the lead further. After being lethal all day, LeVert missed a pair of threes with less than a minute to go. With Indiana forced to foul, the Lakers then secured the win at the free-throw line.

Inside the Numbers

Kelan Martin finished with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting off the bench, marking the third time in his last four outings he has reached double figures.

The Pacers won the battle for points in the paint, 60-50.

Indiana finished with a better shooting percentage than L.A. (51.7 percent to 47.7 percent), surrendering just its fifth loss of the season when out-shooting its opponent.

Starting in place of Domantas Sabonis, Goga Bitadze finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks.

You Can Quote Me On That

"I just felt healthy. My body felt healthy, my back (is) feeling good. I'm feeling good these days. I just came out there and played hard, got a rhythm, and played my game. The ball was going in today." –Sampson on his performance

"Right now, this game is over. We have to learn what we can from today, and start preparing right now when we get on this airplane as we head to Tampa, and play Toronto." –Coach Nate Bjorkgren on approaching the team's final game of the season

"I think teams are being smart with their rest right now, leading up to the playoffs or Play-In. Regardless of your situation, I think teams are trying to figure out when to rest guys and when to get guys minutes so they can have rhythm and stuff going into the playoffs. It was a compact season. So, not a lot of guys are 100 percent right now." –LeVert on the compact season and its effect on the league

Stat of the Night

Using their size advantage, the Lakers earned 36 attempts at the free-throw line, sinking 29 of them. Meanwhile, the Pacers connected on 14-of-19 from the charity stripe.


  • The Pacers will play the loser of Sunday's Hornets/Wizards matchup in the Play-In tournament.
  • Domantas Sabonis sat out of Saturday's contest with a left quad injury he suffered against the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.

Up Next

The Pacers close out the regular season in Tampa against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, May 16 at 1:00 PM ET.