The Indiana Pacers dropped a home game on Friday, a rarity, but will try and get back on track Saturday night in Philadelphia against the 76ers.
The Pacers fell to the Los Angeles Lakers, 99-93 on Friday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It was only the eighth home loss of the season for the Pacers, who are a game ahead of the New York Knicks for second in the Eastern Conference.
The Lakers came to Indiana and were thought to be without Kobe Bryant, who severely sprained his ankle Wednesday in Atlanta. Bryant miraculously started, but didn't return after going scoreless playing all 12 minutes of the first quarter.
Once Bryant left, the Lakers used a balanced attack. They trailed by three after one, but buried the Pacers, 30-22 in the second quarter. It was close late, but the Pacers made too many mistakes and allowed too many easy shots, especially from long range. L.A. shot 50 percent (13-for-26) from behind the 3-point line.
"We had too many mental breakdowns. We didn't deserve to win tonight the way we played," said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. "Guarding the 3-point line unintelligently tonight (was) probably the biggest of many mental breakdowns."
George Hill paced Indiana with 27 points. All-Star Paul George added 20 and Lance Stephenson registered a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The big men for the Pacers were absent in the scoring column. David West only managed eight points and Roy Hibbert had seven, but Hibbert grabbed 10 boards.
The Sixers have been off since Wednesday when they became the 20th consecutive victim of the Miami Heat. Philly fell, 98-94, but gave the streaking Heat, who have now won 21 straight, all they could handle.
"Our guys gave an incredible effort tonight," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "We gave ourselves every chance. I couldn't be more proud of the way our guys fought."
Thaddeus Young was spectacular for the Sixers against Miami with 24 points and 15 rebounds. Jrue Holiday added 21, Evan Turner had 15 and Dorell Wright chipped in 13 off the bench.
Things don't get any easier for a Sixers team that is all but assured of missing the postseason. After losing to the Eastern Conference's best team on Wednesday, they get the second-best team on Saturday.
"They play with a lot of tenacity," Collins said after practice on Friday. "Their physicality is a big part of what they bring. They play excellent defense. They're really a together group."
The Pacers won both meetings between the two teams this season and have taken four of their last six in the City of Brotherly Love.