Caris LeVert rewrites Pacers record books with historic fourth quarter against Lakers

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LOS ANGELES — On a night when Lakers superstar LeBron James grabbed his 10,000th rebound, Russell Westbrook made his first three 3s and Carmelo Anthony came alive with a 10-point third quarter, it was Pacers guard Caris LeVert who outshined those three future Hall of Famers with a fourth quarter for the ages.

LeVert was limited to 15 minutes through the first three quarters due to foul trouble but erupted for a regular-season franchise-record 22 points in the final frame to power the Pacers to a spirited 111-104 victory over LA. The former Michigan standout played the entire fourth quarter and showed off his full offensive repertoire en route to Indiana's fourth road win of the year.

Jan 19, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Caris LeVert (22) moves the ball against Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley (20) and forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the first half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 19, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Caris LeVert (22) moves the ball against Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley (20) and forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the first half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

"Honestly, I felt (like I was in the zone) from the start of the game. I felt great, my body felt great and I felt locked in," LeVert said. "I had two dunks in the first five minutes. I don't even know the last time I did that. The fouls were definitely frustrating, but like I said, my teammates really kept me in it."

LeVert's 22 points in the fourth quarter eclipsed Indiana's previous regular-season record of 21 points held by the most iconic player in franchise history, Reggie Miller. (Miller, of course, also scored 25 points in the fourth quarter of a playoff game against the Knicks in 1994.) Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said he was proud to see LeVert take his place in history, especially considering everything he's overcome.

Last year, LeVert had a cancerous mass removed from his left kidney. This season, he sustained a stress fracture in his back during training camp that sidelined him for the first six games of the year plus two more as he returned to full strength. LeVert missed five more games earlier this month after entering the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocols for a second time.

"Caris LeVert's a resilient player, a resilient person," Carlisle said. "I mean you look at his history, the things that he's been through with injuries, a really difficult cancer scare, there's been so many things. Coming back this season at the beginning of the season from a fracture in his vertebrae, and he wasn't completely 100% when he came back. He worked his way back into it, but he wasn't pain free. He wasn't gonna do anything that was gonna hurt it worse, but he wanted to compete. He wanted to be part of the team.

"(Wednesday), he showed he's a gamer. He's just a gamer."

LeVert's 22 fourth-quarter points nearly matched the output of the Lakers' entire team (24 points). He scored nine straight points to flip an 85-84 deficit into a 93-87 lead with 7:13 left in the game.

LeBron James scored nine of his 30 points in the final frame, but every time he tried to engineer a Lakers rally, LeVert had a response. LeVert scored the final seven points for the Pacers, including a pull-up jumper over Austin Reaves that put Indiana ahead 111-100 with one minute remaining.

"We just celebrated when we got to the locker room," teammate Malcolm Brogdon said. "It's frustrating being in foul trouble and your minutes being limited the way they were for him. But he's resilient, he's mature, he was locked in. Even when he was out, he stayed locked in and finished the game for us."

LeVert also had eight rebounds and two assists. Brogdon returned from a sore right Achilles and provided 19 points in 26 minutes. Domantas Sabonis played through a sprained left ankle and totaled 20 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the 17th triple-double of his career. Torrey Craig added five points, a game-high 13 rebounds and two assists off the bench.

LeVert said he was pleased with his team's collective effort and wore a big smile after rewriting the Pacers' record books.

"For me it was just the same thing (as) every single game, just be aggressive," LeVert said of his mindset. "There were some openings for me (Wednesday), and like I said, my teammates put me in position to be successful, so I just tried to take advantage of it."

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers: Caris LeVert rewrites record book with 22-point fourth quarter

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