INDIANAPOLIS -- Halfway through the night, the Los Angeles Lakers had reason for optimism. They were one deep jumper away from being tied against the team with the NBA's best record. While a win wouldn't reverse a season of misery, it would allow many around the organization to perk up for at least one day.
By the time it was over Tuesday, the Lakers returned to form, completely collapsing in the second half of a 118-98 loss to the Indiana Pacers (43-13) in front of a sellout crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
And while the losses have begun to blend together for the Lakers, this one drew harsh words from center Pau Gasol, who directed barbs at his teammates and coach.
"There's just too many individual actions right now," said Gasol, who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. "There's not really a flow or rhythm out there. ... I don't think there's a lot of discipline right now."
It echoed the sentiment of Coach Mike D'Antoni, who said, "We forced stuff, didn't pass the ball. You just can't play that way."
But Gasol and D'Antoni didn't seem to be on the same page about much else. Gasol took aim Tuesday at D'Antoni's preference to stretch the floor with small lineups. In Indiana, that meant starting Wesley Johnson at power forward against All-Star big man David West, against whom Johnson, naturally a small forward, struggled mightily and got into early foul trouble.
"I think when you have a guy like that," Gasol said, "or a lineup like (Memphis') Zach (Randolph) and Marc (Gasol) tomorrow, you have to match up accordingly a little bit, I think. But that's just me."
The Lakers trailed, 57-54, at halftime but committed eight turnovers and scored just 16 points in the third quarter. In the end, they were outrebounded, 62-42, and at their worst trailed by 33 points.
Kent Bazemore notched a career high for the second time in three games with the Lakers, leading all scorers with 23 points. Pacers All-Star Paul George led seven Pacers in double figures with 20 points.
(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services