Losing to the Lakers without Kobe (well, 12 minutes of ineffective Kobe) and Pau Gasol — at home, mind you — has to equal the Pacers' worst loss of the season. Even worse than the Miami game a few nights ago.
When I heard Kobe was going to play, I actually thought it would be a good thing for the Pacers. Surely he would not be 100% and might try to do too much, which would play right into the Pacers' hands. Unfortunately, he played just 12 scoreless minutes and realized he couldn't go on, and sat out the rest of the game.
Rather than folding, however, the Lakers just caught fire from downtown and could not miss. Steve Blake and Antawn Jamison combined for 9-14 from the outside, and Metta World Peace outhustled and frustrated Paul George. Dwight Howard got the Pacers big guys in trouble early and often. Lance Stephenson contributed to a lot of wild, out of control plays, many of which turned into turnovers. Even though there were some questionable calls in favor of the Lakers, the Pacers absolutely deserved to lose this one.
It was just horrible, and I worry the Pacers might be heading in the wrong direction at a key stretch of the season. Road games against Philly and Cleveland coming up, then home games against the Magic and Bucks. The Pacers need to win all four.