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Lakers loses 17-point lead and falls to Indiana

LOS ANGELES — All the hype and intrigue finally unraveled in a regular-season game in November. A nerve-racking, intense with a stunning ending.

The Lakers couldn’t maintain a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, losing to their longtime trading partner, the Indiana Pacers, 116-115 on Monday at the Crypto.com Arena.


what you need to know

  • The Lakers failed to maintain a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter
  • Anthony Davis posted another brilliant stat line for the Lakers, but Pacers rookie Andrew Nembhard became the hero by drilling a three-pointer on the buzzer
  • The Pacers scored an incredible 32 points in the last 9:26 of the game
  • Westbrook did his best to remind Lakers supporters of his new meaning as a Lakers reserve

Anthony Davis posted another brilliant stat line for the Lakers, but Pacers rookie Andrew Nembhard became the hero by drilling a three-pointer on the buzzer.

The Pacers scored an unfathomable 32 points in the final 9:26 of the game and netted in seven of their last eight possessions. Indiana made six threes during his run and picked up 14 points from two rookies, Nembhard and Benedict Mathurin, on track.

“Everything has to go wrong to lose a game like this,” said LeBron James, “and everything went wrong.”

It didn’t look like it as Russell Westbrook started cheering fans in the courtside seats after finding Wenyen Gabriel for a dunk to give the Lakers a 9-59 lead, 101-84.

The Pacers (12-8) gradually cut it from there as the Lakers fell to 7-12 overall and 2-12 against .500-plus teams.

James hooked a quick hook shake from the right to give the Lakers a 115-113 lead, however slight, with 20.9 seconds left in the game.

Pacers center Myles Turner missed a three-point shot by 5.6 seconds, but Tyrese Haliburton secured the offensive rebound and found Nembhard, who was perfect from 26 feet.

“It’s moments like this where you just go, ‘Oh damn,'” said Lakers guard Lonnie Walker IV. “Only the basketball gods give them the green light.”

Walker IV was irritated enough after the game to start training on the court and taking extra shots as defeat gradually settled into reality. He only scored nine points against Indiana.

The headlines that came into play all revolved around a trade between the teams that didn’t materialize. Turner and Buddy Hield have been linked to the Lakers in a deal involving Westbrook for months. The Lakers remain unwilling to part with two future first-round picks to complete the deal, though the deadline for deals is still a long way off (February 9).

Westbrook did his best to remind Lakers supporters of his new meaning as a Lakers reserve. He had 24 points and six assists off the bench and was animated throughout the night and danced many times after making big plays.

“Every single night I’m just trying to have fun, embrace the game and enjoy the game,” Westbrook said.

Rumors of a Lakers-Pacers deal began in August and faded by the end of October, when Turner told ESPN the Lakers should “look very carefully” at acquiring him. Translation: He wants to play in Los Angeles.

Turner has one career year under his belt and is a proven shot blocker at center position, but he’s in the final year of his contract and will be a free agent next summer. Hield is one of the NBA’s top three-pointers this season and has another year under contract for a reasonable $18.6 million, but his acquisition would stretch the Lakers’ around $35 million free agency budget next year severely affect summer.

Lakers fans took a deep breath as James slowly walked into the dressing room in the first quarter after stepping on Haliburton’s toe. However, he came out for the second quarter and finished it with 21 points.

Davis had 25 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots.

The Lakers play Portland at home on Wednesday before hitting the road for 13 of their next 17 games.

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