NBA Basketball: Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana Pacers – Pacers Favored
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After helping the Los Angeles Lakers end their longest losing streak of the season with another dominating performance, Kobe Bryant looks to continue his superb play Friday in a matchup with the Indiana Pacers.
Bryant had 43 points, eight assists and eight rebounds Wednesday to lead Los Angeles (28-18) to a 111-98 win at Boston in his return to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension.
The nine-time All-Star missed the team’s 99-94 loss at New York on Tuesday after being punished by the NBA for hitting San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili in the face in the Lakers’ 96-94 overtime loss Sunday.
"When you miss a game, you come back with a new energy," Bryant said. "I was just really excited to be out there playing.
"I was finally able to run out in the yard. Just have a good time. I have so much fun playing."
Bryant’s performance, which included 12 fourth-quarter points, helped the Lakers snap a season-high three-game losing streak.
"We know he’s going to take the big shot. We know he’s going to take the game over in the fourth quarter," Lakers guard Smush Parker said. "That’s his time to shine."
Bryant is averaging 37.0 points in his last four contests, including a 42-point performance in a win over Golden State on Jan. 22. That had been the Lakers’ only victory in six games heading into Tuesday.
Los Angeles now plays the third game of a season-high eight-game road trip against Eastern Conference squads.
The Lakers, who do not return to Staples Center until Feb. 13 against the Knicks, are 9-12 on the road. They had lost three straight and five of six on the road before Tuesday’s victory.
Bryant was held to 21 points in the first meeting this season with the Pacers, but the Lakers won 101-87 on Dec. 4 at Staples Center. Los Angeles, though, has dropped its last three visits to Conseco Fieldhouse.
Indiana (24-21) also capitalized on a matchup with the Eastern Conference-worst Celtics in its most recent game, winning 103-96 on Monday to extend its home winning streak to four games.
"I think we relaxed," said Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley, who scored a season-high 28 points. "Playing a team like that, they’re little, they’re going to scramble and they’re going to make the game tough for us."
The Pacers, who are tied with Atlanta for last in the conference in field-goal shooting at 43.7 percent, hit a season-best 53.6 percent (37-for-69) on Monday.
Since losing a season-high four straight, Indiana has won four of five games and the only loss came to first-place Detroit, 95-87 on Sunday.
Tinsley is averaging 17.0 points, about four above his season average, in four games since returning from a lower back injury that caused to miss a game last week.
By: Marc Young – theSpread.com – Email Us
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