Los Angeles—The Indiana Pacers humbled the Los Angeles Lakers 136-94 on Tuesday, 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.
Myles Turner added 22 points and Thaddeus Young chipped in 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for an Indian 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, 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.
Fans in Indianapolis rubbed in the rumors, 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.
James said he felt “all right” on Tuesday, although still not 100 percent.
“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 pass 32,000 points for his career.
That milestone notwithstanding, James endured the most lopsided defeat of his career, having previously twice lost by 36 points.Meanwhile, defending champion Devin Booker will go up against Curry brothers Stephen and Seth as well as NBA veteran Dirk Nowitzki in the All-Star weekend three-point contest later this month, the league said Tuesday.
Phoenix Suns star Booker won last year’s three-point contest with a record 28-point final round.
He defends his title in a field of 10 sharp-shooters that will include Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and his brother Seth -- who plays for the Portland Trail Blazers and is shooting an NBA-high 48.5 percent from three-point range this season.
The three-point contest will be on All-Star Saturday on February 16, on the eve of the All-Star game in Charlotte, North Carolina.
It will be a homecoming for the Curry brothers, whose father, Dell, played 10 seasons for the Charlotte Hornets.
Stephen Curry will be appearing in his sixth three-point contest. He won it in 2015, but skipped the event the past two years.
He has also been voted a starter for the All-Star Game.
The field includes 2019 NBA All-Stars Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers as well, along with Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets as well as Danny Green of the Toronto Raptors, Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets and Buddy Hield of the Sacramento Kings.
In other All-Star Saturday action, Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges, Atlanta Hawks forward-center John Collins, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo and New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. will showcase their aerial artistry in the Slam Dunk contest.
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