Pacers thump Lakers 136-94, Clippers rally
By Agence France-Presse
LeBron James joined a select group of NBA players to score 32,000 career points but nevertheless endured the most lopsided defeat of his career Tuesday as the Indiana Pacers routed the Los Angeles Lakers 136-94.
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 24 points for the Pacers, who tied a franchise record with 19 three-pointers.
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.
On a night of few Lakers highlights, head coach Luke Walton was pleased to see a driving dunk from the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player.
“It was good to see LeBron take off and go dunk one and kind of trust his body,” Walton said, although 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 by the Thursday transfer deadline.
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.”
However, he admitted that the trade talk could be tough on younger players.
“They’ve just never been a part of it and they’re hearing it every single day,” he said.
James, still working his way back after a 17-game absence, said he felt “alright” if 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 twice before lost by 36 points.
– Clippers rally –
The Los Angeles Clippers rallied in Charlotte, where forward Tobias Harris drained a floater in the lane with 4.3 seconds remaining to give the Clippers a 117-115 victory over the Hornets.
The Clippers had trailed 88-68 in the third quarter but rallied behind 34 points from Harris and 31 from Lou Williams.
All-Star point guard Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 32 points and nine assists, but it was Marvin Williams who took the Hornets’ last-gasp attempt — firing up an air-ball as time expired.
In Oklahoma City, Paul George scored a game-high 39 points and Russell Westbrook notched his seventh straight triple-double — his 20th of the season — with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 16 assists as the Thunder downed the Orlando Magic 132-122.
The Toronto Raptors, chasing the Milwaukee Bucks for first place in the Eastern Conference, overcame the 76ers 119-107 in Philadelphia.
Joel Embiid scored 14 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter to help the Sixers cut a 21-point deficit to seven points with 3:47 left to play, but Philadelphia would get no closer.
Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 24 points. Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry scored 20 points each — Lowry returning after missing a game with a sore back.
Lowry appeared unaffected by a report that the Raptors had offered him to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of a trade package for Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
Amid other reports suggesting the Grizzlies are poised to ship Gasol to the Hornets the Spanish center didn’t play for Memphis as they hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Conley scored 25 points and handed out nine assists for Memphis and Jaren Jackson added 23 in the Grizzlies’ second straight win.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 26 points and pulled down 18 rebounds for the Timberwolves, his two free throws with 15.7 seconds left knotting the score at 106-106.
Conley then missed a three-pointer, but Minnesota’s Josh Okogie was called for a loose-ball foul on Justin Holiday who converted two free-throws to seal the win.