There’s nothing like an early Christmas gift, especially when riding an eight-game losing streak.
The Los Angeles Lakers were most generous in their only visit to Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season Monday night as Kobe Bryant and friends couldn’t buy a basket while the Indiana Pacers came to life and couldn’t seem to miss.
It was as if the traditionally cold-shooting Pacers — who have yet to hit 50 percent of their shots in a game this season — finally found another team that could actually shoot the basketball worse than them. The Lakers hit just 16 percent of their shots in the opening half. Bryant was 3-of-13. The Pacers led by as much as 39.
The Lakers’ 27 points in the first half were the fewest for an NBA team this season.
The Pacers enjoyed a 33-point halftime lead and cruised to a 110-91 triumph to snap their longest losing streak since 2009.
It was as if the sputtering Pacers (8-17) were finally due after losing five in the eight-game skid by double digits and to seven teams with winning records. And the once-proud Lakers (8-17) looked like a team that didn’t have any energy in the tank after road victories at San Antonio and Minnesota.
On Sunday night at Minnesota, Bryant celebrated passing Michael Jordan for No. 3 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. A night later, the Lakers star guard did what he could to try to rally his team with 21 points on 8-of-26 shooting.
The Lakers couldn’t get started. They made just 3-of-20 shots in the first quarter while the Pacers sank 12-of-24. The Lakers then made just 4-of-23 shots in the second quarter while the Pacers sank 10-of-22.
Pacers reserve forward C.J. Miles, who missed the last loss with a knee bruise, looked like the scorer who had 30 points in his previous game at home five days ago. Miles hit 6-of-10 shots including 3-of-4 3-pointers for 16 first-half points. He ended up with 20 points.
Solomon Hill was the only Pacer who didn’t score of the eight who took the floor in the opening half.
Indiana had it wrapped up with a 31-point lead by the end of the third quarter. It's just the fifth time this season the Pacers have eclipsed 100 points in a game.
The Pacers hit the road for three games, visiting the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, the Denver Nuggets on Saturday and Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. The next home game is next Tuesday against New Orleans.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.