Much has changed since the Los Angeles Lakers last traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Indiana Pacers.
The Lakers are currently riding a seven-game winning streak and have won 17 of 18 overall heading into their first meeting of the season against the Pacers on Tuesday night.
When the Lakers visited Indiana on Feb. 5, however, the Pacers tied an NBA franchise record by making 19 3-pointers in the 136-94 victory. The setback represents the most lopsided loss in the 17-year career of Los Angeles star LeBron James.
During the offseason, the Lakers acquired six-time All-Star Anthony Davis and hired Frank Vogel, who coached the Pacers from 2011-16 and departed as the franchise’s all-time leader in NBA wins.
The Lakers lost their season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers, but have since followed with three different winning streaks of at least seven games.
Los Angeles hasn’t even been at 100 percent in recent games, but the wins continue to pile up.
Kyle Kuzma has missed the past three games with a sprained left ankle, James injured his elbow in a 113-100 win at the Miami Heat on Friday and was questionable against the Atlanta Hawks two days later. He totaled 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists in the 101-96 win, one of his most impressive performances this season.
Davis also rolled his right ankle late in the fourth quarter against the Hawks but finished the game.
“I tweaked it a little bit, but I wanted to just try and play the rest of the game off of adrenaline and then tend to it after the game,” Davis told reporters. “It’s a little sore, but I have a couple of days to get it right for Indiana.”
The Pacers are also playing well lately with wins in three in a row and 11 of their last 14 games.
“We’re playing good basketball right now,” Indiana forward Domantas Sabonis told reporters following a 107-85 win against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday.
“We’re moving the ball, have a lot of players in double figures and every night it’s someone else. That’s the beauty of it.”
Indiana benefited from 23 points off the bench from Aaron Holiday against the Hornets.
In a 110-100 win at the Hawks on Friday, seven players finished in double figures for the Pacers.
The Lakers have been getting the most out of James and Davis while their supporting cast continues to deliver solid contributions.
James and Davis have won the past two Western Conference Player of the Week honors.
As good as the results have been for the Lakers lately, there are some areas Vogel would like to see improvement, particularly on defense.
Los Angeles has combined for 41 turnovers in the past two games, but Vogel didn’t seem as concerned with those numbers.
“You’ve got to credit the other team sometimes,” he said. “Teams are coming after us. We always get the other team’s best shot.”
Vogel said better floor spacing could take some of the pressure off the point guard.
“It’s not always the ball handler’s decision making with the turnovers,” he said. “Our execution just has to be a little bit better.”
–Field Level Media