Your Los Angeles Lakers lost in spectacular fashion to the Indiana Pacers last night. Having led at home by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter, L.A. saw its offense devolve into haphazard jumper attempts from stars LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, and the team also struggled on defensive switches. The team would ultimately fall, at the buzzer, to an Andrew Nembhard triple.
Now, it turns out that last night's defeat, which dropped the Lakers to a 7-12 record on the season, made the wrong kind of history for James, as his game continues to regress in year 20.
Clutch Points reports that James-led teams have won 403 of the 405 games during which they were up by at least 17 points in the fourth quarter of a game. Thus, this Pacers loss represents only the second time in The Chosen One's storied career that his team has coughed up such an advantage.
We should probably qualify "regress" a bit. James enjoyed a solid game last night, and remains one of the league's best scorers, but his defense and efficiency have taken a hit, as he looks to preserve his body during the regular season.
Against the Pacers, James scored 21 points, although it took him 22 shots to get there. He also grabbed seven boards, dished out three dimes and had a steal to boot. For the year, the 18-time All-Star is averaging 25.4 points on .455/.289/.738 shooting splits, 8.8 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 0.7 blocks a game.
After a fairly forgiving recent schedule (five of the last seven games L.A. has played have been against sub-.500 teams), the Lakers are now in for a tough few weeks.
Nine of the team's next ten games will be against teams with winning records, including five of the top six teams in the East (the sixth is the Pacers, and we know how that went). The Lakers' only surefire victory over the coming weeks will be against the Detroit Pistons on December 11th. Until then, the team should take no fourth quarter lead for granted!