The big number against Dallas was 40. Kobe had 40 and took charge in the fourth quarter, but that was not the biggest 40. While Dallas had 103 points, they shot only 40% (eFG%) from the floor â€” they were not efficient, they just scored points because this was a fast paced, 107 possession game.
The Lakers need to hold down the Pacers in the same way if they want to make it two in a row at Staples. Los Angeles catches a key break â€” Jermaine Oâ€™Neal will miss the game with a shoulder injury. Oâ€™Neal not only has a team-her PER of 23.5, he is one of the league leaders in possessions used percentage. He is the focal point of their offense, especially with Ron Artest promoting his rap album and having lunch with David Stern. Even with Oâ€™Neal in the lineup, the Pacers have the 21st most efficient offense in the league, just 101.1 points per 100 possessions.
Without him the Pacers have gone to a retro look â€” Reggie Miller and just-signed Dale Davis are starting. In his farewell tour Miller has a PER of 14.59 â€” just below the league average of 15 â€” but he is still capable of the hot night. They may be old the Pacers already played at a slow pace, 26th in the league in the number of possessions per game (91.6, less than the 18th ranked Lakers at 93.7).
The potential trouble for the Lakers is in the back court, where point Jamaal Tinsley has a PER of 18.97 and off guard Fred Jones stepped up with 23 in Oâ€™Nealâ€™s first game out. The Lakers need good defense out of the Atkins/Brown again to get the win. Laker Center Chris Mihm is going to have to step up and play good defense on Jeff Foster, who averages 12.5 points per 40 minutes with a respectable PER of 17.62.
Without their stopper Artest, the Pacers are an average defensive team, 12th in the league giving up 102.1 points per 100 possessions. The good news is they are pretty average at defending the two, a opponents PER of 15.4 on the season, and they are week inside, an oPER of 16.0 at the four and 17.7 at the five. Odom and Mihm can have big nights if they come out aggressively.
With a daunting schedule the rest of the way, the Lakers need to take advantage of the breaks that fall their way. An Oâ€™Neal-less Pacer team is one of those breaks.