The swings in the NBA are violent, a good game often just a day or two away from a rough one.
Saturday night in Cleveland, the Lakers’ offense rolled, the ball zipped, and late in the game the defense flexed.
Monday night in Philadelphia, just two days after the Lakers looked so connected, they were back to being strangers, frustratingly glaring at one another after missed shots, botched drives and blown defensive assignments.
It resulted in a one-sided night, the Lakers watching everything go wrong around them in a 138-94 loss.
It’s tied for the fourth-most lopsided loss in team history. It was also the worst of LeBron James’ career.
Darvin Ham, a coach who has been slow to call it a night, pulled his starters with more than eight minutes to go, the game clearly lost to the 76ers, who were playing with more force, more intention and with more attitude.
The 76ers somehow attempted 18 more three-pointers and 13 more free throws, beating the Lakers on all offensive levels.
Earlier in the day, 76er backup Paul Reed called Anthony Davis a “big flooper.” Davis responded by hitting his first three shots of the game, but the Lakers and he quickly went quiet.
Patrick Beverley, whom the Lakers traded last season, barked at his former team’s bench and hounded whomever he guarded.
And Philadelphia’s stars, Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, outplayed the top Lakers. Embiid had 30 points, 11 rebound and 11 assists while Maxey scored 31 to go with eight assists.
James and Davis combined for 35 points.
The 76ers attacked the Lakers from deep, making 13 first-half threes despite averaging just 11 makes per game heading into Monday.
First, Maxey softened up the Lakers from three before Beverley, who was shooting only 13.6% from deep, made a trio of three-point shots early.
While the 76ers were bombing from deep, the Lakers’ offense, largely, was just bombing — the team once again hamstrung by missed jumpers and a clunky rhythm.
The Lakers trailed by as many as 25 points in the first half, a 20-2 run in the first quarter blowing the game open. At the end of the first half, the Lakers showed some signs of life, cutting their deficit to 15 despite being badly outplayed for the bulk of action.
They briefly cut it to 12 in the third quarter before the 76ers pushed again, the game quickly devolving into a blowout. Philadelphia made 22 threes, the most the Lakers have given up in a game this season.
The Lakers play again Wednesday night at Detroit.