Indiana controlled the score for the majority of the game. Every time the Lakers made a run to make it close, the Pacers would go on another run and establish a double-digit lead.
Los Angeles took its first lead late in the fourth quarter when Frank Vogel deployed LeBron at center and surrounded him with four shooters. Russell Westbrook went in and out of this lineup but ultimately closed out the game.
Chris Duarte made an incredible three in the final seconds to force overtime, but LeBron showed he is still the king with several deep 3s to seal the win.
Here is how the Lakers, now 10-10 on the year, graded individually:
Russell Westbrook: B-plus
It was a solid B-plus for Russell Westbrook tonight. He put up 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 40 minutes, including a key bank shot late in the game. He also converted on 9-of-11 free throws, including two clutch ones that also came late in the fourth.
He also turned up the energy on defense to slow Malcolm Brogdon and company, which showed when the Pacers couldn’t buy a basket in the final minutes during Los Angeles’ comeback run.
Avery Bradley: C-minus
Avery Bradley had some good individual defensive moments against Duarte, but the Lakers didn’t need him when the comeback happened. Bradley didn’t score any points, but he made a nice alley-oop lob to DeAndre Jordan in the second half. He barely passes this one.
Talen Horton-Tucker: D
Talen Horton-Tucker won’t get an F for this game, which has been the trend lately. He hit some good shots that the Lakers are accustomed to, but he also forced layups and made it more difficult than it should’ve been. He shot 3-of-10 on the night, an improvement from previous games, but not enough to pass.
LeBron James: A-plus
LeBron returned and hit dagger after dagger to close out the game. He looked off during regulation with missed layups and not attacking the rim with the same force he usually does. But when it mattered most, he arrived.
James finished the game with 39 points (13-of-29 FG, 5-of-12 3P, 8-of-9 FT), six assists, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 43 minutes. The way he ended the game reminded the NBA world he is still one of the league’s very best when he turns it on.
Los Angeles can thank him for saving this game.
Malik Monk: A-minus
Malik Monk came up big off the bench. He was the secondary creator Los Angeles needed him to be. Monk posted 17 points and eight rebounds while shooting 6-of-11 overall and 3-of-6 from deep. His shot was consistent all game, and he used a variety of floaters to get points. Monk deserves a shoutout for his defensive efforts, too, especially with his intense screen navigation.
Monk’s main downfall was a pivotal turnover late in the game when he carried the ball in transition. It wasn’t costly in the end, but it hurt his grade.
Carmelo Anthony: B
Carmelo Anthony made 3s early on, but his role changed as the game progressed. When the Lakers went small with LeBron at the 5, Carmelo became his designated screener to get James the switch on Domantas Sabonis. Anthony also turned it up on the defensive end when it mattered, leading to a plus-14 on the night.
That isn’t a tell-all stat, but he altered his usual catch-and-shoot role to benefit L.A.’s gameplan, and it worked.
Wayne Ellington: A-plus
Wayne Ellington had his best game of the season. Though LeBron will dominate the headlines, Ellington’s corner 3s in the fourth quarter brought the Lakers back into the game.
He shot 4-of-6 from deep en route to 14 points and had a solid defensive outing. It was a night to build from for the veteran shooter.