LOS ANGELES (AP) — George Hill’s high-arching shot over Dwight Howard went in with 0.1 seconds left, and the Indiana Pacers withstood Kobe Bryant’s 40-point performance and the Lakers’ last-minute rally for a 79-77 victory over Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
Hill scored 19 points and hit that enormous clutch shot for the Pacers, who won their third straight road game over the Lakers after losing 11 consecutive regular-season games since Staples Center opened in 1999.
The Pacers’ sturdy defense stifled the Lakers’ up-tempo offense for most of the night, turning the game into an ugly grind before the thrilling finish.
Bryant hit a tying 3-pointer with 24.5 seconds left and produced the 114th 40-point game of his career despite playing with an apparent case of the flu for the Lakers, who dropped to 2-3 under new coach Mike D’Antoni.
David West scored 16 points and Paul George had 12 in the opener of Indiana’s four-game road trip.
The Lakers flirted with the lowest-scoring game and worst shooting percentage in franchise history before scoring eight straight points in the waning minutes, tying it at 74 on Howard’s dunk with 1:56 to play. After West made one free throw, Howard and Metta World Peace combined to miss four straight free throws, dropping Los Angeles’ performance at the line to 23 for 43.
After Hill made a running shot, Bryant hit a 3-pointer in front of the Lakers’ bench to tie it.
The Pacers wound down the clock for Hill, who beat Pau Gasol off the dribble and arched his shot over the leaping Howard, who blocked four shots and scored 17 points despite 3-of-12 shooting at the free throw line.
Before outscoring the rest of his team combined, Bryant missed the Lakers’ morning shootaround when he fell ill. He spent the day in bed, drinking fluids and listening to Bob Marley, before giving another high-scoring performance, albeit with 10 turnovers and 12-for-28 shooting.
The Lakers returned from a three-game trip for a three-game homestand, their final multigame stretch at home before Christmas. After playing six games in a nine-day stretch earlier this month, the Lakers are clearly running near empty — and they had little to give in the first half against Indiana.
The Pacers jumped to an early lead and hung on to it despite falling into a 1-for-23 shooting slump in the first half, playing more than 12 minutes with just one field goal. The Lakers couldn’t take advantage, missing 14 of their 18 shots in the second quarter and repeatedly failing to move the ball at D’Antoni’s preferred pace.
Bryant made five of his first six shots, emulating his many strong performances with the flu, but fell into a 1-for-10 slump before getting rolling again late in the third quarter while Los Angeles made a 13-2 run. Bryant had nine turnovers in the first three quarters, but also had 29 points — more than his teammates’ combined 28.
NOTES: The Pacers stay in California to face Sacramento and Golden State before stopping in Chicago on the way home from their trip. … The Lakers handed out bobblehead dolls in the likeness of the late Chick Hearn, their beloved broadcaster who would have turned 96 on Tuesday. … Ashton Kutcher, David Beckham, Landon Donovan, Kaley Cuoco, Gene Simmons, Shannon Tweed and Tenacious D band members Jack Black and Kyle Gass watched from courtside.
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