INDY — The big three went off again and the Lakers re-discovered their defensive intensity tonight in the second half en route to a lopsided victory over the overmatched Indiana Pacers. Kobe Bryant had 29 points, Andrew Bynum scored a season-high 27 and Pau Gasol added 21 points. Bryant had nine rebounds, Bynum had 12 and Gasol had 13. Lamar Odom scored 12 points and grabbed a team-best 14 rebounds. The Lakers outrebounded the Pacers, 62-42. The Lakers also had 20 offensive rebounds. They outscored Indiana, 59-40, in the second half after leading by three at halftime.
Here’s some postgame reaction from Lakers coach Phil Jackson: “I express (the need for improved defense) to the players nightly. Our middle is really soft. We’re giving up a lot of penetration. If we give up that much penetration, we’re going to get hurt both inside and outside.”
Here’s Bynum on whether he’s played well enough to be picked for the All-Star team: “I think I’m definitely able to play at that (All-Star) caliber when the ball comes my way.”
Here’s Gasol on the same subject: “I’m hopeful. It’s something to be part of that great game. It’s a great recognition to be among the best in the league. Obviously, you hope you’re going to be selected. Hopefully, you play your best and the coaches will give you that credit.”
Next stop on the Lakers’ eight-game trip: Philadelphia.
The All-Star backups will be announced Thursday on TNT.