The Los Angeles Lakers overcame a slow start and ragged stretches of play to begin a three-game homestand with an 99-86 victory against the Indiana Pacers. It came despite the Lakers playing without starters Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brandon Ingram, because of injuries.
A patched-together starting lineup unsurprisingly led to stagnant offense and a slew of turnovers. Alex Caruso and Jordan Clarkson were instrumental in swinging the tide in the Lakers’ favor, particularly during a dominant second quarter that saw the Pacers score just 14 points.
Clarkson was the first player to reach double-figures and went on for a fifth-career 30-point game. Caruso’s night saw him electrify the Lakers bench and Staples Center crowd with a one-handed slam dunk in the second quarter.
When Victor Oladipo and the Pacers briefly took a lead in the third quarter, Lakers head coach Luke Walton again turned to his bench to help restore order.
But that proved fleeting, as the Pacers began the fourth quarter on a run to cut it to a one-possession game. Clarkson went on to finish with a game-high 33 points on an efficient 14-for-19 shooting. His scoring flurry late in the fourth quarter helped the Lakers put the game away.
While he provided the scoring boost the Lakers were in need of, Clarkson also had seven rebounds and seven assists. Julius Randle had 14 points, Kyle Kuzma scored 13, and Caruso chipped in with four assists as he helped control tempo.
Josh Hart put together another all-around game with nine points and five rebounds. Oladipo led the Pacers with 25 points, while Domantas Sabonis was their next-highest score at 15 points. Indiana’s bench didn’t provide much support in what was the second game of a back-to-back, scoring 20 points.
After consecutive games in which they were dominated on the glass, the Lakers held a slight edge in rebounding, at 47-44. If there was a lowlight for Los Angeles, it was inexplicably shooting 2-for-14 from the free throw line.
Clarkson, fittingly, was responsible for both makes. The win was the Lakers’ first this season in nine games without Ball.
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