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George helps Pacers pull away from Lakers, 118-98

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter, Evan Turner had 13 points in his Pacers debut, and Indiana beat the Los Angeles Lakers 118-98 on Tuesday night.

Indiana improved its league-leading record to 43-13.

Kent Bazemore finished with a career-high 23 points and Jodie Meeks added 15 for the Lakers (19-38), who have the worst record in the West. The loss also ended Los Angeles’ three-game winning streak at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Lakers stayed closer than expected through the first 2 1/2 quarters and trailed just 59-58 early in the third.

But George then scored 10 points in a decisive 14-5 spurt that gave Indiana an 80-68 lead with 2:58 to go in the period. The Pacers finished the quarter on an 11-2 run to make it 91-70, and the Lakers couldn’t get closer than 19 the rest of the way.

It was a huge night for George and Indiana’s continually evolving bench.

George had seven rebounds and six assists despite spending the entire fourth quarter on the bench with most of Indiana’s starters. David West had 11 points and 12 rebounds, Roy Hibbert finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks, and the Pacers got 50 points from the bench with their newest player, Turner, leading the way.

Lavoy Allen, who came with Turner from Philadelphia last Thursday in a trade deadline deal, played the final 4 1/2 minutes. Andrew Bynum, who signed with Indiana on Feb. 1, did not play against one of his former teams and still has not suited up for Indiana.

It didn’t matter Tuesday, even on a night that Bazemore produced a career-high total for the third straight game. He’s had career bests in all three games since being traded to Los Angeles from Golden State.

He was one of the big reasons Indiana struggled to pull away early.

After trailing 57-54 at the half, the Lakers got as close as 59-58 when Pau Gasol hit a 15-foot jumper early in the third.

Then George & Co. reasserted themselves and never gave the Lakers another chance.

West’s tip-in and five straight points from George Hill made it 66-61. George followed that with 10 points in the big run that finally gave Indiana an 80-66 lead.

They weren’t even close to being finished. Indiana closed the quarter on an 11-2 spurt and when C.J. Watson made a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left, the Pacers led 91-70.

Indiana fell one point short of matching a season-best point total and is now 27-3 at home this season.