INDIANAPOLIS — During his pregame news conference, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle joked that his team had “the unlucky fortune” of facing a Lakers squad led by a “fresh” LeBron James, who returned from a one-game suspension Wednesday night. Anthony Davis was held out with the flu, but even in his absence Indiana still had its hands full with James.
After Pacers rookie Chris Duarte buried a 3 to send the game to overtime, it was James who made play after play in the extra period to lead the Lakers to a 124-116 victory. Here’s what stood out:
Chris Duarte’s clutch 3
Duarte made the biggest shot of his young career when he nailed a 3-pointer from the corner right in front of the Lakers’ bench to tie the game at 112 with 6.5 seconds left. He finished with three 3s and 17 points, but no bucket was more clutch than that one.
“He’s unafraid,” Carlisle said. “He has rise up ability and skill, and he shoots with a lot of range.”
James missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer on the ensuing possession, but he dominated in overtime to lift his team to victory.
LeBron James is still king
Even in James’ 19th NBA season, he is still arguably the best player in the world.
The game was tied at 114 with just under three minutes left in overtime when James drilled a 3 over Domantas Sabonis to put his squad ahead. Moments later he drilled another 3-pointer to extend the lead to 120-114 with 1:52 left in the extra period. The 17-time all-star delivered the final dagger with a turnaround jumper over Brogdon with 41.2 seconds left to make it 122-116.
“He’s one of the greatest players of all time,” Brogdon said. “He’s been in that situation a thousand times so he’s not gonna shy (away) from the moment, and I think that’s what we experienced (Wednesday). He made some tough shots.”
James scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and also had five rebounds and six assists in the game.
Brogdon had a team-high 28 points and was one of seven Pacers players to score in double figures.
Ice cold overtime
As James single-handedly willed his team to victory, the Pacers went ice cold during overtime. Indiana shot just 2-of-11 in the extra period and was 0-of-6 from behind the arc. Brogdon was the only Pacers player to make a shot in overtime, making a midrange jump shot and a layup.
“They upped their defense, their intensity, their ball pressure,” Brogdon said. “I thought we played a little too slow. . think we’re best when we play fast. … They were able to get set and get stops.”
Wayne “Weezy” Ellington
Indiana led 91-82 early in the fourth quarter after a layup by Caris LeVert, but the Lakers went on a 9-2 run powered by Wayne Ellington to tie the game at 93. Ellington, who has been nicknamed “Weezy” by James and his teammates, made two 3s during that stretch.
He ended the game with four 3s and 14 points.
“Weezy, he got it going from the 3-point (line),” James said. ” … That was fantastic.”
Hall of Famers
Even without Davis, the Lakers still had a host of future Hall of Famers to rely on in James, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.
James made five 3s in a game for the third time this season, Westbrook totaled 20 points and seven rebounds, Anthony had 14 points off the bench and Howard also chipped in as a reserve with eight points and nine rebounds.
“I was watching (the Lakers) on a broadcast, it was two games back or it might’ve been three games back.” Carlisle said before the game. “The broadcaster was saying that they likely have five and possibly six Hall of Fame players on this team, which is really unreal.”
Anthony, Davis, James and Westbrook were all named to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team as four of the 75 greatest players in league history.
L.A. Lakers 124, Indiana 116
L.A. LAKERS (124): Horton-Tucker 3-10 2-2 8, James 13-29 8-9 39, Jordan 2-5 0-0 4, Bradley 0-1 0-0 0, Westbrook 5-15 9-11 20, Anthony 4-13 4-5 14, Howard 4-4 0-0 8, Ellington 5-7 0-0 14, Monk 6-11 2-2 17. Totals 42-95 25-29 124.
INDIANA (116): Holiday 5-15 2-3 16, Sabonis 5-9 4-4 14, Turner 4-10 3-3 12, Brogdon 9-21 5-6 28, LeVert 5-13 0-0 10, Craig 2-6 3-4 7, Duarte 7-18 0-2 17, Martin 1-4 0-0 2, McConnell 4-8 2-2 10. Totals 42-104 19-24 116.
L.A. Lakers 26 34 22 30 12 — 124
Indiana 31 35 18 28 4 — 116
3-Point Goals—L.A. Lakers 15-37 (James 5-12, Ellington 4-6, Monk 3-6, Anthony 2-7, Westbrook 1-3, Horton-Tucker 0-2), Indiana 13-46 (Brogdon 5-10, Holiday 4-12, Duarte 3-10, Turner 1-6, LeVert 0-3, Martin 0-3). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_L.A. Lakers 52 (Jordan 11), Indiana 52 (Sabonis 12). Assists_L.A. Lakers 20 (James 6), Indiana 25 (McConnell 8). Total Fouls_L.A. Lakers 21, Indiana 25. A_15,572 (20,000)