After Philadelphia, LeBron James needs some sunshine.Darvin Ham brightens Detroit’s day in Los Angeles

DETROIT — “A lot” needs to change, he said.

“I can only speak for myself – I don’t like it,” he added.

LeBron James has done this occasionally throughout his storied 21-year career. There’s one bad game, or maybe a lot of bad games, and he’s going to react. He has asked management to replace the players around him. He took out his anger on his coach. What follows is often a tense few days or even weeks.

The comments were prompted by what happened Monday night in Philadelphia against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers lost by 44 points, the worst loss James has ever felt, and he said “a lot” of changes need to be made to ensure no other team beats the Lakers like the Philadelphia 76ers did.

James didn’t get too specific, but he did mention that the 76ers made 22 three-pointers, while the Lakers made seven. “We got killed at the three-point line,” he said.

It’s old news, and a great in-season tournament game across the league on Tuesday has been bleached and dried, followed by, yes, a 26-point win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday that wasn’t as close as it was at 133. 107 points indicated.

The Pistons have the worst record in the NBA and have suffered a 15-game losing streak. They’re not the best measure of whether the Lakers made all the changes James proposed that night.

“I thought we responded well and played better,” James said after scoring 25 points in Detroit. “We gave ourselves a better chance defensively. We put out a lot of shooters that we thought could shoot from the outside, but we also controlled the paint. And, you know, that’s critical.”

James’ comments on Monday were understandable — it was appropriate to wipe the egg off your face. But they also seemed to lack important context, such as the Lakers’ short-handed victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers last weekend and then a visit to the new LeBron James museum opening in South Cleveland on Sunday.

James said he was still in shock about being embarrassed in Philadelphia when he returned to his hotel room Monday night. “It got me a little excited,” he said, but “the next day, when we left and came here, it was time to focus on the Pistons.”

What happens next is what matters. Sure, the Lakers traveled to Detroit together on Tuesday, but other than that, they were silent. James wasn’t brooding or moping when they agreed to go to a hotel ballroom for a team meeting Wednesday morning. Neither did coach Davon Ham, who used the video session to offer some positive points.

His message is not about change.

“In my personal travels, I think this is how I live my life,” Hamm said. “Just making the best of everything. Even though I’ve been through tough times as a player and as a coach, that’s OK. Just always trying to see the glass half full. As far as leading a team as a head coach , I just feel like the coaches around me are like this, they treat their players in a negative way.

“To me, insults rarely make you progress. You try to address the things you need to do better, but focus more on the positive things and let everyone know it’s okay to fail. Because you don’t want to keep failing. If You try and fail, and then you learn something from the first try, then that will hopefully make you successful on the next try. You just try to focus on being solution-based.

“I just never believed in ‘calling men out’ or insulting men and passive-aggressively attacking men. I call facts what they are. If it makes someone uncomfortable, try not to make the same mistake.”

The Lakers could easily be breathing fresh air now that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do against a team whose average starter age (21.5 years) is just a little older than James’ 21 seasons. If the Lakers somehow lost (which they were never in danger of doing), when James became impatient with the likes of Russell Westbrook, David Blatt or the Cavaliers’ bench , usually an alarm sounds.

But the Lakers took care of things in Detroit, and before they did, Ham gave them some perspective. Their winning record is noteworthy despite serious injuries to Jared Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura and Gabe Vincent. Points about the success they’ve enjoyed, like – and I don’t know if he said this specifically – their performance in the in-season tournament: 4-0, vs. the Phoenix Suns in the quarterfinals at home on Tuesday, going A trip to Las Vegas will do. Hamm said there were even positives to come from the game film of Monday night’s drubbing.

The forty-four point loss shouldn’t have happened, but it did. Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards were defeated by so many on January 16, 2002, when Michael Jordan was 38 years old (the same age as James when he beat James by 44 points ). Ham tried to tell the Lakers, including James, not to make this night any worse.

“The most important thing for (James) is that he’s a competitor — as fierce a competitor as I am — and that’s a hard experience to go through,” Hamm said. “I understand he’s frustrated to have a loss like this. But at the end of the day, we’re all… I’m frustrated too. Like I told them this morning, there’s going to be lopsided wins and we’ve been on the right side On one side, there will be lopsided losses. Close wins, close losses: That’s the nature of the NBA. Especially today’s NBA. Looking around the league and the way some of the numbers… people are scoring from top to bottom. It’s just so cool. People are amazed. So, the bottom line is that in frustration, it’s okay to feel frustrated because you’re passionate about the game. You can’t get emotional and lose focus and get lost.”

In a series of lighter moments on Wednesday, Ham joked about his newly trimmed beard during his pre-match press conference. This is thanks to a well-groomed goatee.

“Yeah, man, just following LeBron’s orders – had to change my face,” Ham deadpanned. “I thought he was talking about my beard.”

Hamm cracked another joke when asked about the Pistons, that night’s opponent and the team Hamm played for that won the NBA championship in 2004. “I’m glad we didn’t coach the team I played for (at that time),” he said. “The game I was in … we had seven games with under 70 points.”

If the Lakers somehow lose on Wednesday night, those two lines and all the positivity Ham brought that day will be a distant memory.

Furthermore, James is not a negative person. Not by a long lens. He’s played more minutes and scored more points than anyone, and he hasn’t done it in 21 seasons by frowning. He led an entire team to the NBA Finals that shouldn’t be there and won a championship when he shouldn’t have been. Countless role players and coaches were paid millions of dollars for their success with him.

But on this particular occasion, when a bad game in Philadelphia sent James into a dark place he’d been to before, Ham had the confidence and wherewithal to bring not just James, but all of the Lakers, back into the light .

“We just take the constructive criticism, we take it to heart, and then we apply it to the game,” James said.

(Photo of LeBron James and Stanley Umde: Carlos Osorio/AP)

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