Before Tuesday, James’ worst defeats were two games in which his club lost by 35 points: Jan. 16, 2017, when the Cleveland Cavaliers fell 126-91 to the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, California; and Nov. 28, 2007, when the Cavaliers lost 109-74 at the Detroit Pistons.
“They scored 33 points off our 19 turnovers, and that was from the beginning of the game. We can’t play from behind like that,” James said. “I think it [the jet lag] hit us. That first game flying across the country looked like it had a lot to do with it, but we didn’t come out with the defensive mentality we had the last time we played them and they made us pay for it.”
Indiana led wire to wire and never allowed the Lakers to get within single digits after the first basket of the second quarter despite playing without All-Star guard Victor Oladipo and on the tail end of a back-to-back following a four-game trip.
At one point, the Pacers led by 46.
And after James left with 2 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the third quarter, coach Luke Walton wisely kept the four-time MVP on the bench for the rest of the night.
James was not himself either after missing 17 of the previous 18 games with an injured groin. He missed three of his first five shots, was beaten three times early on defense and had five first-half turnovers before finishing with 18 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds and 6 turnovers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.