After a three-game road trip, the Los Angeles Lakers returned home on Monday to face an Indiana Pacers team that has been heating up lately.
Los Angeles gradually built a sizable lead in the first three quarters of the game. It led by six at halftime and by 17 early in the fourth quarter, but then the Pacers got themselves going.
They went on a 10-0 run to cut the Lakers' lead to seven, and after the Lakers flexed a bit, a 13-3 run by Indiana made it a nail-biter down the stretch.
Up by two with 20.9 seconds left, L.A. forced a missed 3-pointer by Myles Turner with 5.6 seconds left, but the Pacers got an offensive rebound, and rookie guard Andrew Nembhard threw in the game-winning trey at the buzzer.
The Lakers contributed to their 116-115 loss by walking the ball upcourt and milking the shot clock in the fourth quarter, and it killed their offensive rhythm, which resulted in numerous turnovers and empty possessions down the stretch.
Anthony Davis: A
As the San Antonio Spurs did on Friday, the Pacers threw lots of double teams at Davis. Those doubles held him to 15 shot attempts, but he made nine of them while hitting 7-of-10 from the free throw line to finish with a very solid 25 points, to go along with 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Davis took advantage of Indiana's double-teaming strategy to dish out six assists, five of them coming in the first half.
LeBron James: C
James got off to a hot start, scoring the Lakers' first seven points, but after that, it got a little ugly. He finished 8-of-22 from the field and 3-of-10 from 3-point range, scoring 21 points and managing just three assists.
He tweaked his ankle in the first quarter and went out for several minutes, but he returned and played the rest of the contest.
However, James was a major reason the Lakers' offense ground to a halt in the fourth quarter, as he stopped attacking and started getting deliberate.
Troy Brown Jr.: B-
Brown hit just 1-of-5 from the field, but he went 1-of-2 from 3-point range. His big contribution was his 10 rebounds, and he also blocked one shot in 29 minutes.
Dennis Schroder: C-
After a breakout performance on Saturday versus the Spurs, Schroder struggled against Indiana, going 2-of-6 overall and 1-of-4 from downtown. He finished with eight points, three rebounds, four assists and one steal.
Lonnie Walker IV: B-
Walker has been playing very well of late, but he came back to earth on Monday. He played just 22 minutes and went 4-of-9 from the field, but he struggled from deep, missing all but one of his five 3-point attempts.
On the night, he had nine points, four rebounds and two assists.
Russell Westbrook: A-
Westbrook got off to a rough start, as he got his first shot attempt blocked by Turner and committed three turnovers in the first quarter.
But he got hot later on, especially in the fourth quarter when he helped keep the Lakers ahead until Nembhard's game-winner. He was clearly feeling it, both in terms of his game and his emotions, and he ended up going 10-of-18 overall and 2-of-4 from 3-point range, giving him 24 points plus six assists, four rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot.
When the Pacers were making their late run, Westbrook hit a 3-pointer with 3:06 left to push L.A.'s lead to nine. Then with 1:45 remaining, he connected on a mid-range jumper that bounced high off the back rim and dropped through the net.
Had the Lakers won this game, those two baskets would've been seen as clutch hoops by Westbrook.
Wenyen Gabriel: B+
Gabriel went just 2-of-7 offensively, but his effort on the boards was outstanding. He grabbed nine rebounds, including five offensive rebounds, in just 13 minutes, and he added a blocked shot as well.
Austin Reaves: B
In 31 minutes, Reaves only got up four attempts, making two of them, but he got to the line often and made all seven of his free throw attempts. He also went 2-of-3 from 3-point range, as it appears he has emerged as one of the Lakers' precious few reliable 3-point shooters.
Kendrick Nunn: D+
In 11 minutes, Nunn failed to give Los Angeles a real lift offensively. He went 1-of-5 from the floor and scored five points, as his only basket was a 3-pointer, and he was able to get to the free throw line once, knocking down both foul shots.
Thomas Bryant: B+
Bryant got only three minutes of playing time at the end of the first quarter, but he made the most of his short stint, grabbing three offensive rebounds and scoring one basket.
It is puzzling why Lakers head coach Darvin Ham doesn't play Bryant every single minute Davis is on the bench, as Bryant has clearly given the team a lift whenever he has been on the court.
Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire