Basketball

James suffers most lopsided career defeat

Lakers star becomes 5th NBA player to hit 32,000 points and is reaching full fitness

The Indiana Pacers humbled the Los Angeles Lakers 136-94 yesterday morning (Singapore time), handing Lakers superstar LeBron James the biggest margin of defeat of his NBA career.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 24 points for the Pacers, who tied a franchise record with 19 three-pointers at Indianapolis.

Myles Turner added 22 points and Thaddeus Young chipped in 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for an Indiana team that notched a third straight victory.

James, playing his second game since suffering a groin injury in a Christmas Day win over Golden State Warriors, led the Lakers with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

JaVale McGee added 16 points for the Lakers and was singled out by Lakers coach Luke Walton as a bright spot on an otherwise dismal night.

The other thing Walton was pleased to see was a driving dunk from James in the second quarter.

"It was good to see LeBron take off and go dunk one and kind of trust his body," Walton said, but otherwise there was little positive to find in a game that saw 19 Lakers turnovers lead to 33 Pacers points.

"Bottom line, we have to be better," said Walton, who said he didn't know if some of the Lakers players had been adversely affected by trade talk swirling around the team.

Reports this week indicated the Lakers had offered as many as six players in a bid to land New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis.

"It affects everyone differently," Walton said of the speculation.

The Lakers have informed New Orleans that they are pulling out of trade talks for Davis, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. But Lakers' president of basketball operations Magic Johnson still wants the Pelicans to start making counter-offers and will listen to them, according to league sources at ESPN.

Fans in Indianapolis rubbed in the rumours, yelling "LeBron's going to trade you" at Lakers guard Brandon Ingram as he went to the free-throw line.

"That's just fans being fans," James said.

"If you let that bother you, you're in the wrong sport."

James had returned from injury to play 40 minutes in an overtime victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last Thursday.

The heavy minutes left him sore enough that the Lakers rested him for Saturday's loss at Golden State.

The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player said he felt "all right" yesterday, although still not 100 per cent.

"I'm on my way to being myself again," said James, who connected on seven of 12 shots from the field and became the fifth player in NBA history to rack up 32,000 points for his career.

That milestone notwithstanding, James endured the most lopsided defeat of his 16-year career (42 points), having previously twice lost by 36 points. - AFP

OTHER RESULTS

Cleveland 96 Boston 103, New York 92 Detroit 105, Charlotte 115 LA Clippers 117, Philadelphia 107 Toronto 119, Memphis 108 Minnesota 106, Oklahoma City 132 Orlando 122, Portland 108 Miami 118

Basketball