Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Preview: Pacers (42-13) vs Lakers (19-37)
Wheat Hotchkiss | Updated: February 24, 2014, 3:30 p.m.
After picking up a win Saturday night in Milwaukee, the Pacers return home to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen, acquired from Philadelphia on Thursday in exchange for Danny Granger and a future second round draft pick, are expected to make their debuts in a Pacers uniform on Tuesday.
Turner, in particular, figures to play an important role in the Pacers' postseason plans. He will likely take Granger's spot in the rotation as the primary wing player off the bench, backing up both starting shooting guard Lance Stephenson and starting small forward Paul George. Turner, who has averaged 17.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game this season, is a good athlete (he's listed at 6-foot-7) who can create off the bounce for himself and his teammates.
It will be interesting to see how Turner meshes with Lance Stephenson. The two players play a very similar game — both particularly thrive with the ball in their hands. Typically, Stephenson starts the second and fourth quarters with the second unit, with the offense running primarily through him. One of the biggest questions right now is how the addition of Turner will impact the construction of the Indiana's offense and substitution patterns.
For now, Pacers fans should expect little change. Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said after Monday's practice that he liked the look of Turner and Stephenson sharing the floor, as it gives the Pacers two gifted playmakers with the ball in their hands and presents a formidable challenge to opposing defenses. Stephenson seemed to agree.
"We’ve got two creators out there at the same time," Stephenson said. "(Turner) is a playmaker and he’s a scorer. So I think it will help us out a lot, with two guards attacking you at will."
Allen's role is less certain. A 6-foot-9 power forward out of Temple, Allen has proven himself a capable player in his three NBA seasons. He's averaged 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds this year, and was a key contributor as a rookie for the 76ers team that upset the top-seeded Bulls and pushed the Celtics to seven games in the 2012 playoffs. But the Pacers already have plenty of depth at power forward with David West, Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland, so minutes for Allen will be hard to come by.
Depth is a foreign luxury to the Lakers, who have been wrecked by injuries this year. 16-time All-Star Kobe Bryant has played just six games. Two-time league MVP Steve Nash has appeared in just 10 contests. Neither is expected to play Tuesday, and the Lakers will also be without the services of guards Xavier Henry and Nick Young.
The Lakers will likely have four-time All-Star Pau Gasol, who returned Friday after missing seven straight games with a groin injury. Gasol leads the Lakers in both scoring (17.1 points per game) and rebounding (10.1 boards per contest).
The Pacers' stated goal is to beat out Miami for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and they currently possess a one-game lead over the Heat in the loss column. Even as the Pacers experience a learning curve integrating new parts into their system, they should — and if they want to maintain their lead over Miami, need to — find a way to win against an under-manned Lakers team.
Lakers: Kobe Bryant (out, fractured left knee), Pau Gasol (probable, strained right groin), Xavier Henry (out, right knee bone bruise), Steve Nash (out, nerve root irritation), Nick Young (out, left knee fracture and bone bruise)
"(Evan Turner is) a guy that really can bring some wing scoring, another guy that’s a ball-handling wing, like Lance and Paul and George Hill all have the ability to play off the ball, too. We’ve always like Lavoy Allen, too. He’s not just a throw-in, he’s a guy that is a real serviceable big, and you can never have too many bigs that can play.” –Frank Vogel
"He does a little bit of everything. He can play multiple positions. I like how he handles the ball, moves the ball. He’s not a great 3-point shooter, but he can score. I’ve followed his career since college, and he’s going to be able to do some stuff for us." –Larry Bird on Evan Turner
"The 3:00 deadline hit and I thought I was still staying in Philly. So I was shocked (when news of the trade broke). But I was glad to go to a great place with a bright future." –Evan Turner
"(Turner) is a big-time player and a player that plays well in big-time games. How we play and offensively how we distribute the ball and play with each other, Evan plays that same style of basketball. –Paul George
"I’m not a coach, but it’s basketball…I know I have a few more plays to learn and things like that, but at the end of the day it comes (down) to effort and attention to detail." –Turner on if he's ready to play significant minutes in the Pacers' system
"Evan’s strength is definitely with the basketball. He made some terrific plays today (in Monday’s practice) in the pick-and-roll game, in the open court, great decisions late in his drives. We’ll definitely put the ball in his hands." " –Vogel on how he plans to utilize Turner
"This team’s been together for a while, so I think it’s going to take some time to get in (to the rotation), but that just means I have to be prepared, come in here and get some extra conditioning, make sure I’m ready whenever my name’s called." –Lavoy Allen
“(Pacers President of Basketball Operations) Larry (Bird) wants to win now. He’s said that from the beginning of the year. He told us that when brought Andrew here. He makes the right moves.” –Roy Hibbert
- The Pacers have won four straight road meetings with the Lakers at Staples Center, but the Lakers have won the last three games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana’s last home win over the Lakers came in a 118-117 win on Dec. 2, 2008.
- Andrew Bynum, who signed with the Pacers on Feb. 1, played for the Lakers from 2005-12. The 7-foot center has begun practicing with Indiana, but there is no timetable for when he might be cleared for game action.
- The Lakers traded point guard Steve Blake to Golden State on Wednesday in exchange for guards MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore.
- With Saturday's win over Milwaukee, the Pacers are guaranteed to finish with a winning record for the third straight season. It is the fastest the Pacers have clinched a winning record in their NBA franchise history (Indiana started 43-12 during the 1969-70 ABA season and finished 59-25).
January 28: Six Pacers players — including all five starters — scored in double figures as Indiana defeated the Lakers in Los Angeles, 104-92. David West scored a team-high 19 points, while Lance Stephenson (15 points and 14 rebounds) and Roy Hibbert (11 and 10) each recorded double-doubles.
Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Jodie Meeks also scored 21 points in the loss.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana/NBA TV – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)
Limited seats remain for Tuesday's game. Find Tickets »