NBA highlights on Feb. 5: Pacers give LeBron James the biggest loss of his career
Li Xiang

The Los Angeles Lakers had one of their worst days on Tuesday as the team suffered a 42-point loss to the Indiana Pacers 94-136 in a game that LeBron James played and Victor Oladipo didn't. Meanwhile, in a key contest in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors claimed a surprisingly easy 119-107 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Anthony Davis trade is killing the Lakers

Players of the Los Angeles Lakers negotiate in the game they lose to the Indiana Pacers 136-94 in the game on February 5. /VCG Photo

Players of the Los Angeles Lakers negotiate in the game they lose to the Indiana Pacers 136-94 in the game on February 5. /VCG Photo

James led the Lakers in scoring (18 points), rebounding (nine) and assisting (seven). Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma both scored 12 points. Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee from the bench got respectively 13 and 16 points.

Indiana had seven players scoring double digits. Bojan Bogdanovic dropped 23 points while Myles Turner had 22. Aaron Holiday, Domantas Sabonis and Edmond Sumner all put down 17 points. Cory Joseph had 13 and Thaddeus Young missed two assists for a triple-double (12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists).

LebRon James of the Lakers handles the ball in the game against the Pacers on February 5. /VCG Photo

LebRon James of the Lakers handles the ball in the game against the Pacers on February 5. /VCG Photo

Tuesday's game should have been another record night for James as he surpassed Kobe Bryant to become the youngest 32,000-point player in NBA history at the age of 34 years and 47 days. Moreover, he also rose above Steve Nash in 3-pt rankings by sinking 1,687 three-pointers to rank No.20 of all time.

Instead, he had the biggest loss in his career, worse than the two 35-point losses to the Detroit Pistons (2007) and the Golden State Warriors (2017) respectively when he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was also the eighth biggest loss for the purple and gold in history - by the way, the team's biggest loss was a 49-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks in 2017.

Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers celebrates after scoring in the game against the Lakers on February 5. /VCG Photo

Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers celebrates after scoring in the game against the Lakers on February 5. /VCG Photo

It's really hard to argue that the Lakers' game was not a mess. They were the trailing side in every quarter (from Q1 to Q4: 26-33, 20-36, 27-32 and 21-35) and in pretty much every statistic. For example, LA delivered 25 assists against Indiana's 37, made only four three-pointers against 19 by the Pacers and scored only five points via turnovers compared with the opponent's 33 points.

In the past two days, news about trade negotiations over Davis between the Lakers and the New Orleans Pelicans was in the air, as was LA's offer. President Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were willing to send Lonzo Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Stephenson and Michael Beasley plus two future first-round draft picks but the Pelicans turned it down by requesting four first-rounders and possibly more second-rounders. When players learnt that their team literally had no problem trading them, it's hard to blame them for pulling their punches on the court - just like the Chicago Bulls in summer 2007.

'Small' Raptors take down 'giant' 76ers

Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors in the game they win against the Philadelphia 76ers 119-107 on February 5. /VCG Photo

Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors in the game they win against the Philadelphia 76ers 119-107 on February 5. /VCG Photo

Three players scored 20+ points for Toronto: Kawhi Leonard (24), Kyle Lowry (20) and Serge Ibaka (20). Pascal Siakam dropped 16 points. Norman Powell and Greg Monroe from the bench respectively put down 14 and 10 points.

Philadelphia's "Big 3" all scored double digits: Joel Embiid dropped the court's highest 37 points and 13 rebounds; Ben Simmons put down 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists; Jimmy Butler had 18 points and five assists. However, other than them, only Furkan Korkmaz got more than 10 points (11) for the team.

2.16-meter-tall Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers under the defense of 2.08-meter-tall Serge Ibaka #9 of the Raptors in the game on February 5. /VCG Photo

2.16-meter-tall Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers under the defense of 2.08-meter-tall Serge Ibaka #9 of the Raptors in the game on February 5. /VCG Photo

As Jonas Valanciunas was still not match fit, the Raptors were disadvantaged in height compared with the 76ers, especially in the paint and thus had to find a way to deal with 2.16-meter-tall Embiid. Instead of putting Monroe, who could match Embiid in size in the first-lineup, head coach Nick Nurse chose a small-ball squad in which nobody was higher than 2.08 meters to force a fast paced game.

Such tactics worked as Toronto forced 18 turnovers by Philadelphia and led in points via turnovers (30-16). Meanwhile, thanks to the team's better vigor, the Raptors grabbed more rebounds (42-34), especially more offensive ones and thus had the advantage in second-chance points (18-11).

Embiid (L) of the 76ers talks to Jimmy Butler (R) in the game on February 5. /VCG Photo

Embiid (L) of the 76ers talks to Jimmy Butler (R) in the game on February 5. /VCG Photo

By contrast, the 76ers seemed to forget Embiid's mismatch in the restricted area and rarely got the ball under the rim. Moreover, their terrible 3-pt shooting (29.17 percent, 7/24) further held the team's offense back. It was only in the fourth quarter when Philadelphia began to pass the ball to Embiid to attack the rim and that was when they started to catch up.

Though the 76ers earned more free throws (38-26) thanks to their physical advantage, it was to late to come back from a 18-point trailing (100-82) in one quarter, especially when Philadelphia could not keep sinking three-pointers and had no clue how to deal with Toronto's double teaming in defense.

Having lost Tuesday's game, the 76ers remained fifth in the East and are only one win behind the Pacers.

Other games on Tuesday included: (away teams come first)

Los Angeles Clippers 117-115 Charlotte Hornets

Boston Celtics 103-96 Cleveland Cavaliers

Detroit Pistons 105-92 New York Knicks

Minnesota Timberwolves 106-108 Memphis Grizzlies

Orlando Magic 122-132 Oklahoma City Thunder

Miami Heat 118-108 Portland Trail Blazers