Five things to take away from Lakers' 98-96 loss to Indiana Pacers
2. Pau Gasol is playing too much of a facilitator. Credit Gasol's versatility and ability to adapt. With Bynum an increased role in the post, Gasol has relied on his his play-making abilities and mid-range jumper to remain relevant. The former quality proved to be magnificant as Gasol dropped 10 assists, and could've had 11 if his Bynum converted off his one-timed behind-the-head pass. But his eight points on four for 12 shooting left a lot to be desired because most of them came off mid-range jumpers. It appears Gasol's losing his aggressiveness to score, while relying too heavily on his ability to facilitate.
3. Where's the Lakers' perimeter defense? This game wouldn't be close if the Lakers defended the perimeter. The Pacers stayed in contention, thanks to a 10-of-18 mark from three-point range. That included Indiana scoring 35 points in the second quarter and going on an 18-12 run after most of the starters entered the lineup at the 6:13 mark. While the Lakers' defensive communication and help looked sharp in the paint, they remained inconsistent on closing out.
5. The bench looked more promising. For the first time in about a month, World Peace became more than just a punchline and sparked more reaction beyond groans over an ill-advised shot. By operating more in the post, World Peace scored 11 points on five-for-nine shooting. Josh McRoberts elevated his energy against his former team, recording three rebounds and three assists. Devin Ebanks appeared in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 13 against Cleveland. Rookie guard Darius Morris looked more comfortable, despite still going through a learning curve. All those performances should give Lakers Coach Mike Brown at least some comfort in finding a definitive rotation.
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Photo: Lakers power forward Pau Gasol works inside for a dunk against the Pacers on Sunday at Staples Center. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times