The Indiana Pacers destroyed the LA Lakers 136-94 in a 42-point blowout, which was the worst loss in LeBron James’ 16-year career.
Even without All-Star Victor Oladipo, the Pacers improved to 35-19 on the season. Seven Pacers scored in double figures and the team hit 19 three-pointers on 56 percent shooting.
The Lakers slipped to 27-27 and find themselves on the bubble in the Western Conference playoffs. After the LA Clippers traded Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia Sixers, it appears as the #8 seed in the West is up for grabs.
Bad Night in Indy
The Lakers had a rough season in LeBron’s first year in Los Angeles. The team got off to a bad start out of the gate with a losing streak. LeBron’s first home game was spoiled by a brawl between Rondo and Chris Paul. There were multiple instances when Luke Walton almost lost his job, even though Magic Johnson assured everyone that Walton would remain head coach the remainder of the season. LeBron went down with a groin injury on Christmas, but the Lakers still upset the Golden State Warriors. Now that LeBron is back, he has to deal with the fallout from NBA trade rumors.
The media circus is 24/7 in the City of Angels. With the Super Bowl over, the Lakers are the main story in town. The trade negotiations between the Lakers and the Pelicans affected both the team and the players involved. Either Luke Walton lost the locker room, or the team gave up on LeBron. Then again, both could be strong possibilities. LeBron cited jet lag as the excuse for a poor effort from the team.
“Flying across the country had lot to do with it,” said LeBron. “But we didn’t come out with the defensive mentality we had the last time. They made us pay for it.”
LeBron led the Lakers with 18 points in 30 minutes. The Lakers shot a lowly 19 percent from three-point range with a 4-for-21 night. Without LeBron, the team hit only 2-for-16 from beyond the arc for an anemic 12.5 percent.
Davis Trade Rumors
Shortly after Anthony Davis went down with a fractured finger, his agent announced that Davis wanted out of the New Orleans Pelicans. The Boston Celtics have been linked in a potential trade with the Pelicans this upcoming summer, but the Lakers wanted to throw their hat into the ring.
Earlier this season, when the media asked LeBron James if he’d love to see Davis with the Lakers, LeBron did not hold back his enthusiasm for the possibility of playing along side Davis.
With the trade deadline approaching, teams have been jockeying for position to acquire Davis in a trade. Most recently, Davis mentioned that he’d like to play for the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers.
LeBron Gonna Trade You
Someone leaked the details of the Lakers trade offer. All signs point to the Pelicans for the leak. The Lakers were wiling to give up everyone on the roster except for LeBron James. The initial offer included Lonza Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, and Michael Beasley, plus a pair of first-round draft picks.
Magic Johnson said the Lakers were pulling out of negotiations because the Pelicans wanted six to eight draft picks.
LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of Lonzo Ball, said he did not want to see Lonzo traded to New Orleans. Rather, the elder Ball wanted his sun to be traded to Phoenix Suns to play with Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton.
At one point during the blowout against the Pacers, fans were chanting, “LeBron’s gonna trade you!”
“It has to be tough on a lot of our guys,” said LeBron. “Especially our young guys who love social media. So, that definitely can’t help.”
It will be up to both Walton and LeBron to patch up the pieces on the team. Basketball is big business. Part of that business is remaining professional despite trade rumors and being put up on the proverbial trading block.
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