LeBron James turned on an age-defying performance one day after his 37th birthday celebration at home with his family.
As the Los Angeles Lakers cruised over the Portland Trail Blazers 139-106, James became the oldest player in NBA history to have 40+ points and 14 rebounds in a single game.
Larry Bird, who was 35 when he had 49 points and 14 rebounds for the Boston Celtics in 1992, was the oldest player to have a 40-14 game, according to Sportradar (which coincidentally also came against the Trail Blazers).
“I don’t feel like I have been in the league 19 years. When I am daily reminded of it, I feel it sometimes,” after the 67th 40-point game of his career, and his sixth in four seasons with the Lakers, James said
“Sometimes you do have to remind people you can still do what you can do at a high level.”
In a game that the Lakers led throughout, James shot 16 of 26 from the field and made five 3-pointers.
“If that’s what our team needs to win, I’m OK with that,” added James, who has averaged 36 points and made 57.8 percent of his shots from the field in his previous seven games, including Friday.
“I’m not a guy who goes out and sees if I can jack up a bunch of shots. The streak I have been on with my scoring I have been efficient. I take pride in that as a player.”
His seven-game winning streak isn’t unusual: he’s done it four times before. But it’s his first since February 2013, when he was with the Miami Heat. With the Cleveland Cavaliers late in the 2005-06 season, James had his longest stretch of 10 games.
The Lakers led 69-54 at halftime, thanks to 27 points from James, who raced coast-to-coast on a slam midway through the second quarter to give Los Angeles a 53-37 lead. With 8:25 left in the game, he hit his 40th point on a 3-pointer from 27 feet out, putting the Lakers up 109-84.
In the final minute of the game, Los Angeles had a 35-point lead.
“This is just LeBron James playing at a superior level more than what is happening around him,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “While (Anthony Davis) is out, he is intent on doing everything he can to pile up wins and play at an extra-high level.”
For the Lakers, who had lost six of their previous seven games, Malik Monk scored 18 points, Carmelo Anthony added 16 points, and Russell Westbrook (15 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) earned his ninth triple-double of the season.
After clearing the league’s health and safety regulations, Portland’s Ben McLemore came off the bench to tie his season-best with 28 points in his first game back. For the Trail Blazers, who have lost four straight games and 11 of their past 13, Damian Lillard contributed 18 points.
“I don’t think we played with enough force. They dictated the start,” Portland assistant coach Scott Brooks is in charge of the club while head coach Chauncey Billups is through COVID-19 processes with the league.
“They were attacking on both ends of the floor and we were back on our heels. You can’t do that against good teams. We gave them too much respect.”
Portland Trail Blazers had a season-high 21 offensive rebounds. McLemore’s 16 points in the first quarter set a new season-high for a player who came off the bench in the first 12 minutes of a game. Lillard tied Paul Pierce for seventh all-time in the NBA with 2,143 points on a 3-pointer late in the second quarter.
Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers hit a season-high 19 3-pointers… The team’s 43 points in the first quarter were a season-best. Anthony passed Dominique Wilkins for 15th position on the NBA’s all-time field goal made list with his second field goal of the night… Vogel returned to the Lakers’ bench after missing six games due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Blazers: Begin a four-game homestand against Atlanta on Monday.
Lakers: Host Minnesota on Sunday.
Image Credit: Getty
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