Monday, July 15, 2024

Anthony Davis, Lakers rally past Pacers to avenge earlier loss

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  • Lakers forward LeBron James drives as Indiana Pacers guard Buddy...

    Lakers forward LeBron James drives as Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield defends during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers forward Rui Hachimura shoots over Indiana Pacers guard Buddy...

    Lakers forward Rui Hachimura shoots over Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield, left, during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James, left, looks to pass over Indiana...

    Lakers forward LeBron James, left, looks to pass over Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers guard Russell Westbrook handles the ball during the first...

    Lakers guard Russell Westbrook handles the ball during the first half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) defends against Lakers guard...

    Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) defends against Lakers guard Dennis Schroder during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner, left, defends against Lakers guard...

    Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner, left, defends against Lakers guard Dennis Schroder during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers guard Russell Westbrook shoots in front of Indiana Pacers...

    Lakers guard Russell Westbrook shoots in front of Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin, left, during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James is defended by Indiana Pacers forward...

    Lakers forward LeBron James is defended by Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner, right, blocks a shot by...

    Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner, right, blocks a shot by Lakers forward Rui Hachimura during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers forward Troy Brown Jr. shoots as Indiana Pacers guard...

    Lakers forward Troy Brown Jr. shoots as Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton defends during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers guards Patrick Beverley, center, and Dennis Schroder (17) argue...

    Lakers guards Patrick Beverley, center, and Dennis Schroder (17) argue with the game officals during the first half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James shoots as Indiana Pacers forward Aaron...

    Lakers forward LeBron James shoots as Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith defends during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, center, shoots between Indiana Pacers center...

    Lakers guard Russell Westbrook, center, shoots between Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner, left, and guard Buddy Hield during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James drives as Indiana Pacers guard Buddy...

    Lakers forward LeBron James drives as Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield defends during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James drives as Indiana Pacers guard Buddy...

    Lakers forward LeBron James drives as Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield defends during the first half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers center Thomas Bryant goes up for a dunk during...

    Lakers center Thomas Bryant goes up for a dunk during the first half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James handles the ball during the first...

    Lakers forward LeBron James handles the ball during the first half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James shoots during the first half of...

    Lakers forward LeBron James shoots during the first half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield shoots as Lakers forward Rui...

    Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield shoots as Lakers forward Rui Hachimura defends during the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard drives as Lakers guard Dennis...

    Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard drives as Lakers guard Dennis Schroder defends during the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James drives as Indiana Pacers guard Buddy...

    Lakers forward LeBron James drives as Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield defends during the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner shoots over Lakers guard Dennis...

    Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner shoots over Lakers guard Dennis Schroder during the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers star LeBron James, top, and the Indiana Pacers’ Myles...

    Lakers star LeBron James, top, and the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner battle for a loose ball during the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith shoots during the second half...

    Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith shoots during the second half of their game against the Lakers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers head coach Darvin Ham gestures during the second half...

    Lakers head coach Darvin Ham gestures during the second half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, right, shoots as Lakers guard...

    Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, right, shoots as Lakers guard Patrick Beverley defends during the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner grabs a rebound during the...

    Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner grabs a rebound during the first half of their game against the Lakers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers star LeBron James dribbles the ball while being defended...

    Lakers star LeBron James dribbles the ball while being defended by the Indiana Pacers’ Buddy Hield during the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James questions a call with referee Natalie...

    Lakers forward LeBron James questions a call with referee Natalie Sago during the second half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers forward LeBron James pleads with referee Natalie Sago after...

    Lakers forward LeBron James pleads with referee Natalie Sago after being charged with a foul during the second half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith shoots during the second half...

    Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith shoots during the second half of their game against the Lakers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle gestures during the second...

    Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle gestures during the second half of their game against the Lakers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin picks up a rebound in...

    Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin picks up a rebound in front of Lakers center Thomas Bryant during the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton shoots in front of Lakers...

    Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton shoots in front of Lakers forward Anthony Davis during the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers guard Patrick Beverley celebrates after making a 3-point shot...

    Lakers guard Patrick Beverley celebrates after making a 3-point shot during the second half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers star Anthony Davis attempts a shot as the Indiana...

    Lakers star Anthony Davis attempts a shot as the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner defends during the fourth quarter on Thursday night in Indianapolis. Davis had 31 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots in a 112-111 win. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

  • Lakers forward Anthony Davis hits a shot over Indiana Pacers...

    Lakers forward Anthony Davis hits a shot over Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner to give his team the lead in the final minute of the second half on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

  • Lakers guard Patrick Beverley reacts after being called for a...

    Lakers guard Patrick Beverley reacts after being called for a foul during the second half of their game against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night in Indianapolis. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — While the stage at Gainbridge Fieldhouse isn’t quite the same as Madison Square Garden, the scenario late in Thursday’s game could not be more familiar to the heart palpitation-inducing Lakers.

They’ve been squeezed in clutch time games before, memorably against these Indiana Pacers, who erased a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit and edged the Lakers when a rookie drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointer back in November.

They were again setting up for disappointment, a key blocked shot by Anthony Davis spoiled by two missed free throws by Pat Beverley. That left Indiana with the ball with six seconds left down by one point and Coach Rick Carlisle drawing up a play on the sideline – would the Lakers experience the same searing pain against the very same team?

Not this time: Dennis Schröder and Russell Westbrook managed to swarm Buddy Hield in the corner, and Hield forced up a heave from 17 feet away that bounced off the rim and into the hands of Davis, who didn’t let the ball go even after the buzzer sounded in their 112-111 win. He loomed defiantly over the Pacers, whom his Lakers held to just 15 points in a smothering fourth quarter.

The Lakers (25-28) need every win they can get – especially against the down-on-their-luck Pacers (24-29), who had lost 10 of 11 coming into the matchup during a stretch without newly minted All-Star Tyrese Haliburton. Davis led the way with 31 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks – including one on Haliburton with 16 seconds left that kept him from giving his team the lead.

“That’s what makes him so unique: He’s one that’s not trying to press up on a guard to show that mano y mano,” Coach Darvin Ham said. “He’s gonna force him to go one way and then beat him to the spot.”

Davis’ versatility was at the top of the conversation in the game, even as his teammate LeBron James had 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and moved within 63 points of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s all-time scoring record.

He was a part of a 12-4 push at the start of the second half after the Lakers went into the locker room trailing by 13 points in a largely uninspiring start. Part of that sluggishness was Davis himself, searching for wind in his fourth game back from injury against the Pacers’ fast-break offense, which racked up 26 points in the game.

In the second half, Davis helped flip the odds with rebounding (the Lakers won the glass 31-24 after halftime) and defense (Indiana shot 18 for 47 in the second half), the core of a swarming, switching group that rattled off a 24-8 run over about 8½ fourth-quarter minutes.

“Still getting used to the game, the flow,” Davis said. “But it felt good. My mindset tonight was to be aggressive knowing the position that we’re in, trying to get wins. Just wanted to come out and be ultra-aggressive.”

James gave the Lakers – who trailed by as much as 15 points – their first lead of the night on a 3-pointer with 2:35 left in the game, and Davis’ teardrop 11-footer with 35.1 seconds left was the decisive basket. Patrick Beverley added some pep as well, making a late 3-pointer and garnering a pair of fourth-quarter steals. He could have ensured the Lakers wouldn’t get beaten by a buzzer-beater when he found himself at the free-throw line with eight seconds left, but he missed both attempts.

Luckily for the Lakers, it didn’t come down to that. Davis’ mere presence helps give the defense a sense of invulnerability, James said.

“A.D. can guard everyone in this league,” he said. “And we feel real confident when we start switching late game or we decide to go to a switch package that he can stay in front of guards.”

Aaron Nesmith scored a career-high 24 points, Haliburton added 26 points and 12 assists in his first game in three weeks and Myles Turner had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Indiana.

For most of the night, it looked as if the Pacers would pull away, thanks to their speed and a significant advantage from 3-point range, where they were 16 for 41 compared to the Lakers’ 6-for-22 showing. Indiana led by double digits for most of the first three quarters and 98-84 early in the fourth.

With five minutes left and the Lakers closing the gap, Ham made a bold decision to reinsert Westbrook to close for Rui Hachimura. To that point, the 34-year-old was 2 for 14 from the field. But Westbrook’s physicality and fast-break playmaking helped validate Ham’s decision, and he instinctively knew to swarm Hield on the final possession.

“The one rule in basketball is you stay away from the corners and halfcourt,” Westbrook said. “And I know once he’s in the corner, I just went and trapped. Time is running out. Forced him to take a tough shot.”

More attention will be foisted upon James in the coming days as he marches toward the record. Though he was held below his 30-point average against the Pacers, he took a big enough bite that it’s conceivable, though highly unlikely, that he could break Abdul-Jabbar’s mark of 38,387 career points as soon as Saturday in New Orleans. The Pelicans are on a 10-game losing streak and the Lakers could jump them in the Western Conference standings with a win.

James’ highest single-game scoring performance is 61, set in 2014. The closest he’s come to that mark this season was when he had 48 against the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 30.

On Tuesday night, a reporter asked James if he had a 63-point game in him.

“Yeah, I do,” he said nonchalantly, without so much as a hint of irony. “I mean, I don’t know if it will happen on Saturday. But, yeah.”

AD in the Lakers win:

💪 31 PTS

💪 14 REB

💪 2 BLK pic.twitter.com/Oyjwtvhlzg

— NBA (@NBA) February 3, 2023

“Don’t use your hands, move them puppies. Gotta move your feet, arms out, make them go through your chest if you make a tough shot, you make a tough shot” @AntDavis23 gives the blueprint on how to Block without fouling and more. pic.twitter.com/SJKieUoQPj

— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 3, 2023

“It’s one of the greatest records in sports in general.” LeBron gives homage to Kareem’s record and more. pic.twitter.com/XEwumklGrT

— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 3, 2023

Coach Ham gives a more detailed look at the team’s in-game decisions, what AD brings to the table, and more. pic.twitter.com/y8ip7k7Yhr

— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 3, 2023

“You know he’s back there to contest, sometimes he may not block… that allows us to get on the break, run, and it’s big for us”. Russell talks about having AD defensively in the paint and the quick decisions he made that helped in the end. pic.twitter.com/3sTysOr34P

— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 3, 2023

.@patbev21 explains why he was so intense on defense tonight and wanted to “impact the game at all levels”. pic.twitter.com/3JQSVCCdlQ

— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 3, 2023

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