LeBron James has been playing like a man possessed since joining the Lakers at the number five spot. In the past, we’ve seen him master games without fully asserting his control, and despite being 37 years old and surrounded by a mishmash of players, LeBron James is still carrying at an astounding level.
As of today, his 28.6 ppg average would rank second in the league. In addition, Stephen Curry, the leading candidate for the MVP award, is just a point behind him in 3-point shooting.
LeBron James performed an age-defying performance one day after quietly celebrating his 37th birthday at home with his family. With a season-high 43 points and 14 rebounds in a 139-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night (Saturday NZ time), James became the oldest player in NBA history to have a game with at least 40 points and 14 rebounds.
In the past, a 40-14 game has been recorded only by one other player older than 35 years old. That player is Larry Bird, who earned 49 points and 14 rebounds in 1992.
“I don’t feel like I have been in the league 19 years. When I am daily reminded of it, I feel it sometimes,” James said after his 67th 40-point game of his career and sixth in four seasons with the Lakers. “Sometimes you do have to remind people you can still do what you can do at a high level.”
Players in NBA history with 40+ points, 10+ rebounds, 5+ threes in fewer than 30 minutes played:
1. LeBron James tonight
That’s the list. pic.twitter.com/2VqLu6Vclp
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 1, 2022
Lakers seek success with LeBron James
It will be a challenge for the Lakers to make the playoffs in the second half of their season. They are currently 18-19 and ranked No. 7 in the Western Conference. The last couple of months were characterized by plenty of home games and lesser opponents, so now things are about to get tougher.
However, you can’t rule LA out if James maintains his current hot streak.
Since Anthony Davis has been out due to a sprained MCL in his left knee, James has averaged 36 points on 58% shooting overall, including 42% from 3-point range. He also has 11 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. This makes him just the sixth player in NBA history to reach that mark over a seven-game span, joining Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor.
Even though it has been a difficult season for the Lakers so far, coach Frank Vogel says James continues to give them hope.
“He exemplifies going out and playing until exhaustion,” said Vogel, adding that James called for a sub because he had exuded so much energy at one point. He brings energy to our team and the positivity… There’s so much noise around our team and negativity and he doesn’t let that, allow that to filter into our group.”
LeBron James’ performance against the Blazers on Friday was at an all-time high. The Lakers got a much-needed win thanks to LeBron as they try to get back on track. After a five-game losing streak earlier this month, they’ve since won two of their last three games.
LeBron James. That’s the story. LeBron James https://t.co/RBQFQm4jb6
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) January 1, 2022