Times sure have changed for the defending NBA Champions.
Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 31 points and Pau Gasol added 28 and eight rebounds as Los Angeles topped the Pacers 109-94 at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Lamar Odom has his 12th double-double of the season, ending with 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers, who have won three-straight and four of five on their current seven-game road trip.
Ron Artest added 13 points for the victors.
“We’ve had a couple good starts,” said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson. “It was our defense. It was terrific. It wasn’t revenge. These guys remembered the Pacers celebrating in Staples (Center).”
Darren Collison scored 17 and Brandon Rush added 16 for the Pacers, who have dropped three straight and four of five. Roy Hibbert added 12 points and Mike Dunleavy scored 11 in a reserve role for Indiana.
Indiana topped Los Angeles 95-92 on November 28, in what was the second game of a four-game skid for the Lakers, their worst since April 8-13, 2007.
The Lakers started the game on a 17-4 run, capped by Gasol’s dunk. They went ahead by as many as 19 points when Bryant’s free throws inside five minutes made it 29-10.
Indiana’s Solomon Jones connected on a short jumper to begin a 9-2 run for the Pacers, but the teams traded three-pointers after that and Odom’s mid-range jumper with 27.8 seconds left gave the Lakers a 36-22 lead after one.
An Odom layup midway through the second quarter pushed the Lakers’ lead to 24 and they carried a 59-37 margin into the locker room.
“[The Lakers] were clearly a superior group to our players tonight,” Pacers head coach Jim O’Brien said. “They jumped on us and never really gave us a chance to get back in the game. They were obviously going to bring it and we didn’t match their intensity in the first half.”
Bryant scored 17 of the Lakers’ 28 third-quarter points, but the Pacers were able to trim the Los Angeles lead to 87-69 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Pacers shot 52.4 percent in the fourth but Los Angeles’ early lead was too much to overcome as the Lakers’ advantage was never smaller than the final margin.
The Lakers held the rebounding margin 51-29…Los Angeles led for the entire contest…Indiana shot 75 percent from the free throw line, while the Lakers shot 70.8 percent.