This came to a big surprise to many fans all over the nation. Even the Indiana Pacers fans. Who would have thought that a rusty team that posted a 32-50 record last season would top over the powerhouse teams over the NBA like the Miami Heat. Who would have thought they would bring a fight to the teams like the Orlando Magic and the San Antonio Spurs? But the surprising of all, who would have thought this new Pacers team could knock off the last year’s world champions, the Los Angeles Lakers?
Well, they did. They led throughout the whole game, and beat Los Angeles in a 95-92 victory. Indiana was recently coming off a disappointing loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they led throughout the whole game but were caused by turnovers late in the second half. They blew a 14-point lead. But Indy came strong in Staples Center, winning their second game ever since the Staples Center opened a little over a decade ago.
But soon, NBA fans are going to realize that this team is not going to be a surprise in the upcoming future. Soon, we are going to be accustomed to the Pacers beating the top teams as they will be one of the top teams, led by the solid core of players like Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert, and Darren Collison. All three of them came up huge in this game. Roy Hibbert handled the tough Pau Gasol. Though Gasol had 13 points and twelve rebounds, Hibbert performed better with 24 points and twelve rebounds. Darren Collison had 14 points and while Granger had 18 points. Hibbert also had six assists.
It was a huge win for Indiana, as they now improve to 8-7. Indiana is showing they are one of top teams in the NBA Central division, now holding second place behind the Chicago Bulls, who have a 9-6 record. Indy is only trailing by one single game. But this win shoes the Pacers can beat the Bulls, as the Lakers bullied Chi-Town just a few days ago.
“To come into L.A. and beat the world champions on their home court is a huge win for us,” Granger told the Associated Press. “It gives us a lot of motivation and confidence on this West Coast road trip.”
The Pacers played solid defense even though they allowed Kobe Bryant to score 41 points. Well, someone was going to score a bunch for that team. All the points were mainly scored by the man. Bryant was the man and was doing all the work in that game as Indy was playing clear-cut defense on everyone else. Bryant may have had all those points, but that last two shots were probably the ones he would have traded in for the 41 points. Bryant had two shots to tie the game as the Lakers were trailing 95-92. On his first try, he almost made it, but luckily for Los Angeles, they got the rebound and a time-out was called.
Hibbert was worried that Bryant would have made the first shot.
“Oh, my heart sank,” Hibbert said. “He’s a closer. He’s the Black Mamba.”
Hibbert got more worried when Ron Artest got the rebound after Kobe’s miss, who was 14-of-33 from the field that day.
“When he missed and they got the rebound, my heart sank again,” Hibbert said. “But it worked out somehow.”
It did as Kobe took a three-point attempt well beyond-the-arc. He would airball as Hibbert rebounded the ball as the buzzer went off. Game over, Pacers win. This was a signature win for the Pacers. But the Lakers played tough when it really counted as they came back once the Pacers stretched their leads. Indy would go back-and-forth with shots as Kobe went the other way with his own. But the Pacers would finally miss as L.A. would make another shot, now only down by a possession. And then, those two potential game-tying misses ruined it.
“We played a lethargic game,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I was encouraging them from the first timeout … to play harder. I thought they outhustled us, and obviously it paid off for them.”
Lamar Odom played well with 15 points and eleven rebounds. The Lakers are now 8-2 at home. Kobe did not like the defense played by L.A.
“We’re going to score points, but we’ve got to shore up the defense,” Bryant said. “We’ve got to execute better. We missed too many assignments, and we didn’t play with the right energy. … We can’t put all the pressure on the shooters to make shots all the time, because then they start thinking about their shot instead of just relaxing and shooting it.”
Indiana will travel to Sacramento and face the Kings tomorrow night at 10:00. They will have two more games on the road after that, as they face the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns. Indy is playing much better than people have thought this week. Let’s hope they continue to play strong the rest of the way, because they have showed they can win against any team now.
“We know this is a big win for us, but we can play with anybody,” Hibbert said. “We don’t want to get too high off this moment. In the future, we don’t want this to be a surprise.”
Someday, it won’t.