The Lakers entered Monday night’s game with the Pacers feeling better about themselves than they had all season, riding a 5-1 streak that had them feeling like a playoff contender again.
The good vibes continued for most of the game against Indiana, as L.A. took a 9-point lead into the fourth quarter, saw a fan drill a halfcourt shot to win $75,000, and proceeded to expand their lead to 101-84 with just under 10 minutes to play. It was at that point that everything fell apart for the Lakers, as they saw the Pacers claw their way back to within a possession of L.A. in the final minute, where Indiana would miss three point-blank shots at the rim for the lead with 50 seconds to go.
HOW’D NONE OF THESE GO IN!? pic.twitter.com/cuv2kYg8HU
— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) November 29, 2022
While that proved to be a missed opportunity, the Lakers weren’t done providing the Pacers with multiple chances at the lead, and that proved costly on the last possession of the game with L.A. up 115-113. After a Myles Turner three for the lead missed, Tyrese Haliburton snagged a long rebound, got trapped at the elbow, and somehow managed to find Andrew Nembhard on the opposite wing, who was able to get off a game-winning three just before the buzzer to stun the Staples Center crowd.
PACERS BEAT LAKERS AT THE BUZZER pic.twitter.com/AtujNp3Y2w
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 29, 2022
It was a wild sequence that capped off a 32-14 run by the Pacers to close the fourth quarter, with Tyrese Haliburton (24 points, 14 assists) and rookie sensation Bennedict Mathurin (23 points, 8 rebounds) leading the way for Indiana. The Lakers got 25 points and 13 rebounds from Anthony Davis, but went away from the big man down the stretch, as he only had two fourth quarter shots after dominating much of the first three quarters. LeBron James was 2-of-8 from the field in the fourth quarter on a 21-point night, with Russell Westbrook providing a 24-point effort off the bench, but it wasn’t enough.
For a Lakers team looking to build momentum this is a brutal loss, and one they can ill afford as they look to reengage on the West playoff chase. On the other side, it’s a tremendous win for the Pacers who looked dead in the water in the early fourth but kept plugging away and improve to 12-8 on the season after many predicted they would be in the East’s basement this season.
As for how rare this comeback was, it’s the first such blown lead ever for the Lakers, while just the second by a LeBron James team in his 20-year career.
Per the great @StatsWilliams:
Entering tonight, teams featuring LeBron James were 403-1 when leading by 17+ in the 4th quarter.
Now, they are 403-2.
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) November 29, 2022
The Lakers were 347-0 when leading by 17+ points in the 4th quarter over the last 20 seasons entering tonight (reg & post).
They were the only NBA team that hadn’t lost a game in that situation over that time.
— OptaSTATS (@OptaSTATS) November 29, 2022