Lakers fall on Dr. Buss Tribute Night
Wes Johnson feels like he missed out. Growing up a Lakers fan, Johnson, now in his first season with the Lakers, never got the chance to play for the team under the leadership of the late, Dr. Jerry Buss.
"It was unfortunate that I didn’t get to play for him," Johnson said of Dr Buss, "(I) didn’t get to meet him but all of the stuff he brought here is amazing."
In a way, Johnson did get the chance on Tuesday night with the Lakers hosting the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center and underneath the ten NBA championship banners the team won under Dr. Buss’ guidance. The team honored Dr. Buss, handing out bobbleheads of the former Lakers owner to fans in attendance and also played a video tribute at halftime. The Lakers came up on the short end, falling to the Pacers 104-92.
Still, it wasn’t for lack of effort.
The Lakers went toe-to-toe with Indiana in the first half resulting in the teams tied 49-49 at the half.
However, in the third quarter is when things began to go south for the Lakers. What happened?
"The Pacers became the Pacers," head coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Indiana started the second half with a 10-2 run coming out of the locker room and never looked back.
The effort never wavered for the Lakers. However, the shots didn’t fall. The Lakers shot 30 percent from the field in the second half and connected on just 1-of-11 three pointers. Poor execution coupled with a battle of attrition that the Lakers lost from the start led to the team’s demise. Coming into the game, the Indiana Pacers injury report read "None."
The Lakers injury report, on the other hand, listed six names, including Kobe Bryant, whom the team reported during Tuesday night’s game would have to be out of the lineup at least another three weeks after being re-evaluated earlier in the day.
The walking wounded — Jodie Meeks and Pau Gasol — tried to keep the Lakers afloat. Meeks, who has been bothered by a foot injury and underwent an MRI on Monday, was tied with Gasol for a team-high 21 points. Gasol, who was one of the names not mentioned in the injury report, was late coming out of the locker room at the start of the second half because of a recurring groin injury he says started bothering him from the beginning of Tuesday night’s loss.
Still, he played through it, providing an example of effort that pleased D’Antoni.
In honor of late Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, all fans in attendance tonight will receive this bobblehead. https://t.co/PBpnpf6i8u
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 29, 2014
Gasol’s 21 points and 13 rebounds marked his fifth consecutive game of 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds.
Kendall Marshall picked up a double-double while recording his 10th game of 10 or more assists. He had 13 helpers to go along with 11 points.
Jordan Hill also had a double with 10 points and 12 rebounds off of the bench.
"I love these guys," D’Antoni said. "These guys are in early every day. They’re working as hard as they can work. That’s all I can ask for as a coach. I’m proud of the way they conduct themselves."
Injuries have disrupted their season, and on the night in which the team honored their late owner nearly a year after his passing, players that could play through injury did. It just wasn’t enough against the team that boasts the best record in the NBA as the Lakers were dealt their 17th loss in their last 20 tries.