In year 19 at age 37, LeBron James continues to carry the load for the Los Angeles Lakers, turning out yet another monstrous performance against the Sacramento Kings.
In 36:28 minutes, he led the way with 31 points, five rebounds and five assists, taking over in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers win 122-114.
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Despite the already heavy miles on his legs, LeBron is currently second in the NBA in minutes per game (36.9), behind only Toronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, who is a decade younger than him. Of the top 10, only three other players are north of the 30 with Kevin Durant tied with LeBron, followed by James Harden (fifth) and Damian Lillard (sixth).
Los Angeles has been understaffed this season with Anthony Davis’ prolonged absence due to injuries, compounded by multiple players in and out of the lineup due to health and safety protocols, meaning the Lakers have had to rely on LeBron. Lately more than they would have liked. however, he says he is more than prepared for overtime on the court, this season being the most minutes he has averaged in a Lakers uniform.
“I’ve always put myself in a position where I can play a lot of minutes and do whatever it takes to help this team win,” he said after the game.
“The coach has done a good job, either through Frank [Vogel] or when Fiz [David Fizdale] I was the interim coach at the time, I just tried to watch my minutes sometimes, but we also have to win games. “
Throughout his career, LeBron has averaged more than 37 minutes in 12 full seasons, the last in 2016-17.
“I feel pretty good, I don’t feel like I’m playing 37 minutes per game and it’s not the record for me either, I had a season in which I averaged 42.5,” he said in reference to his 2005-06 season. for the Cleveland Cavaliers at age 21.
Rising for the swat ❌
– NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2023
After a slow start, shooting 6-of-16 from the field during the first three quarters, LeBron held his ground down the stretch, shooting 6-of-10 in the fourth quarter as he ripped through the Kings’ defense, gaining some advantage. Choice words to your bank after a big bucket with less than a minute remaining.
– NBA (@NBA) January 5, 2023
LeBron scored 14 of his 31 in the fourth quarter alone, but had the help of his running mate Malik Monk as the duo combined for 25 of the Lakers’ 37 points in the fourth quarter.
LeBron’s throwing chart in the fourth quarter
Monk finished with 24 points, while Talen Horton-Tucker added 19 points from the bench and Dwight Howard 14 points and 14 rebounds in just 21 minutes on the court.
Russell Westbrook had 19 points, seven rebounds and two assists, and posted his first turnovers since March 2016, as the Lakers only lost five times as a team, a season low.
“That’s why we won the game,” LeBron said. “We won the game because we didn’t turn the ball over.
“We weren’t throwing the ball well and since we didn’t flip the ball, we caught fire.”
Tonight’s game continues a dominant stretch for LeBron, who averaged 34.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 5.9 assists with 55.4 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from the 3-point line in his last nine games.
With the victory, the Lakers have now won three games in a row and four of their last five while moving above .500 (20-19). They hope to continue their winning streak on Friday when they host the Atlanta Hawks at Crypto.com Arena.