Lakers blow 17-point lead late as they fall to Pacers at buzzer

So far as trades that haven’t occurred go, this one has been talked about a lot.

The thought goes one thing like this: Buddy Hield is likely one of the finest high-volume three-point shooters within the NBA, the form of marksman that may be a should on a profitable LeBron James roster. Myles Turner is likely one of the finest shot blockers within the league and pairing him with Anthony Davis would make life hell on attacking offensive gamers.

And for the value of two future first-round picks and Russell Westbrook’s matching wage, they might each be Lakers.

Monday, with the Pacers and the Lakers assembly for the primary time this season, discuss of that deal dominated — solely to be outdone by a decent sport with Westbrook smack in the course of all of it and a rookie able to punctuate it.

Indiana second-round choose Andrew Nembhard swished residence a three-point shot on the buzzer to cap a 17-point comeback and stun the Lakers 116-115.

“They made some big shots,” Westbrook mentioned.

The Lakers lacked taking pictures, they struggled defensively on the wing and the great vibes they constructed crumbled late in a brutal loss.

Westbrook scored 9 of his 24 factors within the third quarter, pushing the Lakers out to a 16-point lead, and an help from Westbrook on a basket by Wenyen Gabriel put the Lakers up 17 with 10 minutes left within the fourth.

However the Pacers outscored the Lakers 32-14 from there to the end line to steal the win, re-exposing so many acquainted late-game issues from earlier within the season.

James, in his third sport again after lacking time with a groin pressure, couldn’t shake previous smaller Indiana defenders and struggled from the midrange and perimeter. He had 21 factors and hit a tiebreaking shot with 20.9 seconds left, however missed 14 photographs — together with six within the fourth quarter.

“Everything has to go wrong for you to lose a game like that and everything went wrong,” James mentioned.

Davis, whom teammate Dennis Schroder referred to as the most effective participant within the NBA these previous couple of weeks, had a team-high 25 factors in his return after lacking a sport however took solely two photographs within the fourth, and out of rhythm, missed a key free throw.

And whereas Westbrook had eight factors within the fourth, he was largely the lone point of interest for the Lakers’ offense whereas the Pacers authored their comeback.

“Next time out, I’ll do a better job of keeping us organized,” coach Darvin Ham mentioned.

The actual issues had been defensive — the Lakers couldn’t get stops at residence, down the stretch, ceding momentum to a group with decrease expectations and a greater win-loss report.

Indiana scored on eight of its ultimate 9 possessions of the sport, together with Nembhard’s game-winner which got here after a missed three by Turner.

Lakers ahead LeBron James (6) drives to the basket whereas Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield (24) defends throughout the first half at Crypto.com Area on Monday.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Occasions)

The groups have been linked since early within the offseason when the primary rumors of a Westrbook-Turner-Hield deal surfaced. And in contrast to most commerce chatter, it has by no means actually died, the Lakers holding a gathering within the ultimate days of the offseason to once more contemplate it.

The Lakers continued to carry their floor on offers together with each future first-round picks except they seen the deal made them an authorized contender. Up to now, they’ve not felt that approach a few Hield-Turner package deal — and with a loss like Monday’s, it’s not simple to see the deal that will repair their deficiencies. Nonetheless, it was on everybody’s thoughts.

Earlier than the sport, Indiana coach Rick Carlisle answered a common query about will increase in commerce chatter by reducing via any generalities.

“Today’s players do a good job of dealing with the noise. I just think there’s so much of it,” Carlisle mentioned. “Our guys are extremely professional — you’re talking about Buddy and Myles — we all know about that stuff. These guys have been great for us this year. They’ve been just great. They’ve been dependable veterans and they’re both having years that are among the best of their entire career. It’s been great to be with those guys.

“I can see where people would have interest in them,” he mentioned, and laughed. “I have a lot of interest in not trading them, you know?”

Each gamers struggled Monday, Hield scoring 15 however making simply one among six from past the arc. Turner was barely higher with 15 factors, 13 rebounds and three blocks, however he took 17 photographs.

Davis completed with 13 rebounds, Westbrook had six assists (and 6 turnovers), and the Pacers scored 22 second-chance factors to the Lakers’ 13, regardless of L.A. grabbing six extra offensive rebounds.

Earlier than the sport, Ham downplayed commerce questions, deferring to common supervisor Rob Pelinka on that topic. However, with the Lakers having gained 5 occasions within the final seven video games to creep out of final within the West, Ham was pleased with the present trajectory.

“I can just say this: We’re totally thrilled with the way our current group is progressing, and we’re excited about the success we’ve had here recently,” Ham mentioned.

However Monday evening, because the Lakers got here in feeling nearly as good as they’d all season, among the cracks in that basis reappeared.