LeBron James scored 50 points to rally the Lakers past the Wizards. His performance was one of only a few in NBA history and it pushed Los Angeles even closer to making the playoffs while Washington has stumbled out of contention.
LeBron James scored 50 to rally the Los Angeles Lakers past the Washington Wizards in an “epic performance” on Wednesday night. Read more in detail here: los angeles lakers.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — At such a late point in his career, LeBron James continues to reset the benchmark for what a superstar can do.
James, 37, led the Lakers to a much-needed 122-109 victory against the Washington Wizards on Friday, scoring 50 points for the second time in three games.
The victory came six days after James scored 56 points against the Golden State Warriors in another L.A. triumph. The problem is that although the Lakers have gone 2-0 since the All-Star break when James scores 50 points or more, they have gone 0-6 in their other games and are still just No. 9 in the Western Conference with a record of 29-37.
James heard a rare “MVP! MVP!” shout from a sellout crowd at Crypto.com Arena in a season when the Lakers haven’t given fans many reasons to want to pay to see them. Given how frequently booing have been heard in the building, he said he appreciated the welcome.
“Listen, the Laker faithful understands when awful basketball is played and when terrific basketball is played. “They have the right to get any reaction they desire,” James said. “They’ve seen a lot of great teams, a lot of terrific people….” As a result, as a member of this brand, I feel like I’m just attempting to provide them with the chance to have amazing evenings as well.
“Try to give them something to cheer for on a nightly basis, and I know it hasn’t been as wonderful as they would want it to be this year, but you take the tiny victories when they come.”
L.A. seemed to be on the verge of losing again, behind by nine points early in the third quarter when James went off. He scored 12 consecutive points for the Lakers midway through the quarter, in less than two minutes of game time, to give them control of the game and send the fans into a frenzy.
And he accomplished it in a variety of ways, first with an 18-foot fadeaway, then a and-one layup, and then a 31-foot pull-up 3. There was also a floating bank shot, which he double-clutched before flicking precisely off the glass, and a fastbreak dunk, which he attempted to take the rim off its screws.
“I think the league has never seen a guy at this point of his career accomplish what he’s doing,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “That, I believe, is the most important thing to acknowledge. The level at which he is playing is just incredible.”
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James shot 18-of-25 from the field (72 percent), including 6-of-9 from 3-point range and 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
And he accomplished it in a game when he began at center against a Washington team that opened the game with 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis in the middle.
“Perhaps after all these years, him playing center was the greatest way to use him,” Vogel said. “Because that’s how he’s been doing it, by playing center when [Anthony Davis] isn’t available. Doing whatever it takes for the squad to win games. And LJ had an amazing, magnificent, spectacular performance.”
It was James’ 14th career 50-point game, matching Rick Barry for sixth all-time, and his teams have now won their last 12 games where he has scored 50 points or more. Consider this: at the age of 37 and in his 19th season, James became the first player in NBA history over the age of 30 to score 50 points in back-to-back home games.
He’s now scored 20 points or more in 30 consecutive games, raising his scoring average from 29.3 to 29.7 per game and edging out Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid for first place in the league scoring race.
When asked what has been working for him offensively recently, James answered, “Just always trying to remain present.” “When gameday arrives, I’m here five hours before the game, preparing — prepping on me personally, prepping on what I need to do to help this team win, prepping on everything I can possibly do to help this team be the best we can be that night. That’s all there is to it.”
The Lakers’ offseason transaction with the Wizards to acquire Russell Westbrook in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and other components overshadowed the major topic heading into Friday’s game.
Westbrook scored five points on 2-for-11 shooting while dishing out nine assists and committing one turnover. With 8 minutes, 37 seconds left, Vogel withdrew him and sat him on the bench for the remainder of the game. When Vogel sits Westbrook late in the game, the Lakers are suddenly 3-1 this season.
From the moment Westbrook was substituted out until the final buzzer, Vogel went with a closing lineup of James, Malik Monk (21 points), Tal Horton-Tucker (15 points), Austin Reaves (12 points), and Stanley Johnson, who led a 29-20 surge.
Meanwhile, Kuzma led Washington with 23 points, while Caldwell-Pope added four points on 1-for-6 shooting.
Vogel remarked of his final lineup, “It was really about having those players in there to win.” “It didn’t get much better than that.”
When James hit 50 points on a 3-pointer with 1:41 left, Horton-Tucker got the assist and let out a good-natured, jubilant shout in the direction of his former teammate Kuzma to enjoy the moment.
“This is the second time he’s scored 50 this year, and I was like, ‘Damn, he’s got 50!’ I looked up and said, ‘Damn, he’s got 50!’” According to Horton-Tucker. “I thought he was going to reach 50 when he had 47, so I went to try and grab him the 3. So, simply witnessing that serves as incentive, as I always say.”
James, who had 19 points in the third quarter and 33 points overall in the second half, compared his hot shooting to the 1990s video game “NBA Jam,” in which players would be “on fire” after scoring three consecutive baskets, allowing them to shoot from nearly anywhere on the floor.
“At one point, I was able to go on a hot streak,” James remarked. “I simply wanted to remain as long as I could in that zone and hit a few.”
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