April 15, 2024

PHILADELPHIA — Nobody has spent more time on an NBA court playing in games than LeBron James. Only James set the mark in the most lopsided loss of his career.

James became the league’s all-time leader in minutes played during the Los Angeles Lakers138-94 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday. Taking into account both regular-season and postseason games, James has now played 66,319 minutes in his career, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s total of 66,297 minutes.

James’ 30 minutes against the Sixers might have felt longer than usual, however, with Philadelphia outscoring L.A. by 30 points in the time the 38-year-old star was in the game.

“That doesn’t mean much to me,” James said when asked about the minutes mark.

The 44-point loss — the largest of James’ 21-year career and tied for the fifth largest in Lakers history — was far more pressing.

James and the rest of L.A.’s main rotation players were pulled for good with 8:18 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Lakers already trailing by 27. James was asked whether he has thought about what needs to change with his team — which is now 3-6 on the road and 10-8 overall — to avoid defeats like Monday’s moving forward.

“What needs to change in order for that not to happen again? Um, a lot,” James said.

Asked if there was anything in particular L.A. needed to focus on, he repeated: “No. A lot.”

The Lakers trailed 32-19 at the end of the first quarter, digging an all-too-familiar early hole they would try to climb out of the rest of the contest.

“Feel like we just weren’t together,” Lakers big man Anthony Davis said. “A lot of quick shots, one-pass shots, no-pass shots. They started making a lot of shots. And when their lead kind of opened up a little bit — 15, 20, 25 — I think we all tried to be the hero to make the team come back instead of just sticking with it.”

The Sixers made a season-best 22 3-pointers on 46 attempts (47.8%). L.A., meanwhile, was just 7-for-25 (25%) from deep.

“We got killed on the 3-point line today,” James said bluntly.

Lakers guard Austin Reaves was more colorful in his description of what went wrong.

“I mean, they made a lot of 3s, we didn’t, and they beat the s— out of us,” Reaves said. “So, I don’t know. Go back and watch this and get better.”

Davis said the team should “flush” the result from its memory — pointing out that it has a road back-to-back against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday and Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday before it returns home — but agreed with Reaves that a thorough film session would help to examine the loss.

“We’ve got to look at it, embrace it, own it,” Davis said. “Guys don’t take it personal for whatever’s said in the film, and then move on from it.”

Regular film sessions became a part of the Lakers’ success under previous coach Frank Vogel but were sometimes volatile when a player or players took the instruction as a pointed attack rather than a teaching moment.

“You’re sitting there and watching film … it’s also in front of the entire team, the coaching staff,” Davis said. “I don’t think we have guys who probably will take it personal. But if they do, that’s probably another conversation.”

Philadelphia was paced by reigning MVP Joel Embiid, who logged a triple-double with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and got 31 points and eight assists out of fourth-year guard Tyrese Maxey.

While several Lakers players mentioned the obvious injury absences the team continues to navigate — Jarred Vanderbilt (heel), Gabe Vincent (knee), Cam Reddish (groin) and Rui Hachimura (nasal fracture) were all unavailable against Philadelphia — there was a shared sentiment that what L.A. mustered Monday was simply not good enough.

And for a Lakers team coming off a Western Conference finals appearance and hoping to take the next step this season, it was a reminder that it hasn’t looked anything like a contender so far.

“They have championship aspirations,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of the Sixers. “So do we. But in the short term, your competitive spirit has to be at a high level.”

When James was asked how a team should respond to a blowout like the Lakers suffered in Philadelphia, he offered a personal admission instead of any group instruction.

“I don’t know how a team [should],” he said. “I can only speak for myself. … I don’t like it.”

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