LeBron James despaired over the Lakers’ 90-point scoring effort against the Pacers: “Obviously we were very weak against them”

Lakers forward LeBron James, right, drives to the basket against Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith on Friday night.

Maybe any other month of the NBA season, any other moment, and a night like Friday could be written off as an unavoidable occurrence.

When you have 82 games on the schedule — or in the case of the Lakers and the Indiana Pacers, 83 games thanks to the in-season tournament — there are going to be nights when your legs are too heavy, your brain is too foggy and the rims are too tight.

It happens on nights like this for teams, the third game in four nights, the travel miles and the on-court minutes piling up. But when you’re where the Lakers were entering Friday, that stuff can’t get in the way.

Needing wins to try to climb out of the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference standings, the Lakers found themselves trying to fight through “one of those nights.”

They missed too many shots, their communication faltered, and their frustration — the Lakers fully aware of the stakes — was obvious.

Austin Reaves balled up a towel and fired it off the bench after a careless turnover led to a Pacers bucket. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell all looked confused after a miscue led to an easy Pacers layup.

“Bonehead plays,” Reaves said of his mistakes.

And when the final horn sounded, the Lakers’ five-game winning streak snapped with a 109-90 loss, the team had to reckon with a performance that could make their path out of the play-in games and into the playoffs even tougher.

The Lakers didn’t lose ground on the Phoenix Suns, the team they have the best chance of catching, because the Suns lost in Oklahoma City on Friday. But, the Lakers didn’t gain ground, either.

“Teams can play well and beat us. I think it’s the way we lost tonight that’s a wasted opportunity,” Davis said. “We don’t shoot the ball well; you can’t control that.

But we didn’t play well defensively. Turned the ball over. Wasn’t getting back in transition. The way we lost, I think, was the wasted opportunity.

“We’ve been playing great basketball and these guys could’ve shot the ball extremely well and you tip your hats off to them. But we didn’t play our style of basketball on either end of the floor and that’s the tough part. That’s where the wasted opportunity comes in.”

The 90 points were a season low for the Lakers and the first time they were below 100 since Jan. 3.

“Offensively we didn’t have it going,” James said. “Obviously we shot horribly from the three. We’ve been shooting the ball exceptionally well from the outside over the last few months. Just tonight, we didn’t have it.”

Lakers forward Rui Hachimura, center, dunks in front of Indiana's Myles Turner and Aaron Nesmith.

Lakers forward Rui Hachimura, center, dunks in front of Indiana’s Myles Turner (33) and Aaron Nesmith (23) during the first half Friday.


(Darron Cummings / Associated Press)

Davis led the Lakers with 24 and 15 rebounds, but the team shot five of 29 from three-point range, with Russell, Reaves and Spencer Dinwiddie combining to make only two of 18 attempts.

James had 16 points and 10 rebounds, but it was mostly low-impact work in a game in which the Lakers never really had any force.

The team turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 16 Indiana points while visibly deflating the fatigued Lakers.

“You got to be able to focus and play through it and understand it’s three in four nights, but it’s no excuse,” James said. “No excuse for uncharacteristic and unforced turnovers. Some of them you’re trying to make a play to a teammate or whatever and it gets batted down or it’s an attack turnover, you can be OK with those, but some of the unforced ones, you’re not.

You can never be OK with that.”

The team plays its fourth game on its current six-game road trip Sunday in Brooklyn, when guard Gabe Vincent could potentially return to the court. He joined the team in Indianapolis and was on the bench in street clothes Friday night.

Davis returned to the lineup after sitting out against Memphis on Wednesday because of a knee injury. He said he’s still sore, but he anticipates being available the rest of the way.

“Nothing serious,” Davis said. “That’s why I played tonight. I felt like I could play through it. Nothing that I plan to miss any more games for or have to be on a minutes restriction or anything like that.”

The Lakers close their trip against three of the worst teams in the East in Brooklyn, Toronto and Washington — all of whom are under .500.

“That right there is not the thinking,” James said. “That can’t be the thing — saying we’re playing against sub-.500 teams because that will get you burnt every time.”

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