LOS ANGELES (AP) – Roy Hibbert scored eight of his 18 points in the fourth quarter playing with a broken nose, and five of his teammates also scored in double figures to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Los Angeles Lakers 98-96 on Sunday night.
Kobe Bryant scored 33 points for the Lakers, but missed what would have been a tying 3-pointer from 30 feet from the top of the key with 3.5 seconds to play and the Pacers clinched it at the free throw line.
The Pacers (11-5) are off to their best start since 2003-04, when they won 14 of their first 16, finished the regular season 61-21 and came within two wins of getting to the NBA finals.
The Lakers, coming off road losses to Miami and Orlando, failed to reach 100 points for the 11th straight game — their longest streak since a 12-game stretch in 2003-04.
Hibbert, the Pacers’ second-leading scorer, left the court with the broken nose after fouling Bryant with 6:46 left in the first quarter. Tyler Hansbrough replaced Hibbert and missed all five shots during Hibbert’s brief absence, but grabbed seven rebounds.
Hibbert reported back in with 5:12 left in the second quarter after a trainer stuffed cotton up his nose, but he had difficulty keeping it in at times. He also had eight rebounds in 27 minutes.
Bryant beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 16-footer from the right of the key to give the Lakers a 78-77 lead, and former Pacers forward Troy Murphy got his first points of the game on a 3 that made it 82-77.
Hibbert, more than willing to get his nose dirty, scored six consecutive points in the paint to cut the margin to one with 6:15 left, and former UCLA guard Darren Collison’s 3-pointer tied it at 86 with 5:32 left.
West ended the first half with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the top of the key, capping a 15-6 run and slicing the Lakers’ 13-point lead to three at 52-49. He finished the half with 15 points, helping offset 17 by Bryant. Danny Granger’s 3-pointer 1:37 into the third quarter gave Indiana a 55-54 lead, its first since Paul George’s game-opening dunk.
Notes: The National Anthem was sung by Kareem Rush, whose seven-year NBA career included stints with the Lakers and Pacers. … Bryant is 180 points away from overtaking Shaquille O’Neal (28,596) for fifth place on the career scoring list. The two-time NBA scoring champ also is 20 field goals shy of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Lakers career record of 9,935 and needs to make 11 more free throws to eclipse Jerry West’s Lakers career record of 7,160. … Pacers associate coach Brian Shaw, who won three NBA championship rings playing for the Lakers and two more as an assistant coach under Phil Jackson, made his first trip to Staples Center since leaving Los Angeles. He and most of the Lakers players — particularly Bryant — were hoping he’d be hired to replace Jackson as head coach instead of Mike Brown, and Shaw was upset that he had to learn about Brown’s hiring from media reports instead of from general manager Mitch Kupchak. … The last time the Pacers faced the Lakers at Staples Center, they won 95-92 to snap a 14-game road losing streak against them — including three losses in the 2000 NBA finals. … The Lakers have a rematch with the Clippers on Wednesday night, trying to even the season series after a 102-94 loss Jan. 14. … Lakers F Josh McRoberts, who spent the previous three seasons with the Pacers, played 20 scoreless minutes and took two shots in his first game against them.