January 30, 2023

Lakers praise ‘amazing’ LeBron James after 47-point birthday outing

ATLANTA – The Los Angeles Lakers star is coming into Friday night’s showdown with the Hawks on his 38th birthday. LeBron James He told his teammates that he had a gift in store for them. After LA lost five of its last six, he’s going to score 40 points to get them back on track.

Showing that age is a number to aim for and surpass the box score, James proved prophetic with 47 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a 130-121 win over Atlanta.

“I shot 30 and it didn’t work, try 40,” James said. “We won.

“It’s math.”

After shaking off a 1-for-5 start for much of the night, it was mesmerizing. James finished 18-of-27 from the field and helped LA pull off its biggest comeback win of the season from a 15-point first-half deficit.

“The guy’s nothing short of amazing,” Lakers coach Darwin Hamm said. “But it’s something I’m looking forward to.” I don’t like that. That’s what I expect from him. It’s like, ‘Damn! It’s like ‘keep going’.”

James isn’t putting himself out there by predicting a 40-point explosion. “I just want to win and give myself a chance to compete for a championship,” he said two days later after lamenting his predicament with the waffling Lakers. Many assumed that James would put pressure on L.A.’s front office to make a trade to improve the roster.

Instead of hurting his teammates, his message seemed to strike a chord.

“To see that performance from him, you don’t want to take away a greatness like that,” he said Thomas BryantContinued his strong performance for the injured Anthony DavisFinished with 19 points and 17 rebounds.

Hamm said that led to greater focus across the board. Six Lakers scored in double figures against Atlanta.

“I don’t think anyone took it for granted,” Hamm said. “You know what? He’s right. I think we’ve taken it. We’ve got to take our stuff and try to use it the same way, all pulling in the same direction and competing against our butts.”

After scoring 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the fourth quarter and putting the finishing touches on his birthday, he wore his gold, No. 6 took off the uniform, autographed it and gave it to rapper 2 Chainz, who was sitting courtside. .

James’ wife, Savannah, and mother, Gloria, saw James score the second most points on his birthday, missing the 48 he posted in 2009 when he turned 25.

“They’ve been with me since before this 20-year campaign started,” James said of his family. “They are the rock for everything I do.”

Russell WestbrookScored 14 points and 11 assists and scored a crucial layup in the final minute, he had a layup, a steal and an assist on a Bryant layup with eight seconds left to extend LA’s lead from three to seven. James’ old marketing slogan to describe the night.

“That was good to witness,” Westbrook said.

James improved to 5-4 all-time in games played on his birthday, according to an ESPN Stats & Information survey. That’s the third-most points scored by a player 38 or older, behind Jamal Crawford and Michael Jordan, who each scored 51 points.

James passed Jordan for the longest span between a player’s first and last 40-point game, dominating the Hawks 18 years and 278 days after he topped the 40-point plateau while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In the visitors’ locker room at State Farm Arena, Lakers employees enjoyed slices of chocolate-chip cookie cake with the message “HBD to the man in the arena” written on top in brown and white icing.

“I feel better [he felt at] 18,” James said. “I didn’t know what I could be at 18. But I know that if I keep putting in the work, stay true to the game, then I can become one of the best players. Always play this game. That’s what I always believed. …

“There are times when I’m on the floor and I feel like a kid again. That’s for sure.”