Boos often accompanied Los Angeles Lakers games at Crypto.com Arena recently — but the crowd could only cheer on LeBron James on Saturday, as he was putting up a 56-point performance in L.A.’s 124-116 win over the Golden State Warriors.
Besides setting a new career-high in scoring as a Laker, James joined elite company in scoring 56 points or more in a game after turning 37 — joining Kobe Bryant, who famously scored 60 in his last appearance before retiring in 2016.
However, James shot 61.3% from the field and 54.5% from downtown against the Warriors in a considerably more effective performance than Bryant six years ago, who registered 44% overall and 28.6% from beyond the arc.
“There’s really no words for it. An incredible performance,” head coach Frank Vogel said, commenting on the four-time NBA champion’s game.
“The best to ever do it in my opinion. I’ve said it. The biggest thing is what he’s done to transition his game at this stage of his career with his shooting. It’s just an example for every player, to put the work into his craft. To go 6-for-11 from three, 12-for-13 from the free-throw line, still have the power to attack the basket the way he has, and the stamina.
“Just remarkable to be doing at this stage of his career. We’re shifting as a team. We saw early on, the first time we lost Anthony [Davis], what he was capable of if we opened up the lane and gave him the ability to beat teams over the top, but also open up the paint for him to attack the basket and become a roller. The other adjustment for him at this stage of his career is being a roller. He’s made all of those adjustments and he gets the game ball. Hell of a performance.”
James has scored 56 points or more for just the fourth time in his career but hasn’t done so since the last season of his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, just a couple of months before turning 33.
Vogel identified James’ determination as the main trait that allows the superstar forward to dominate the game even in his 19th NBA season.
“He puts in the work to be able to beat people over the top,” the head coach said. “They know they have to load up the paint on him so they’re going to take that away.
“He’s made the transition at this point in his career to be a guy that can be a laser from deep. He beat them from every way tonight. His will, that’s the thing. His will and determination to say, hey we’re going to get off this losing streak and we’re changing the momentum of our team.”
James focused on win, not his 56-point performance after clash with Warriors
James brushed off his incredible performance against the Warriors, saying he paid more attention to the Lakers winning their first game since the All-Star break than his scoring tally.
“Our guys were following me off the floor tonight going into the locker room and asking me how it felt to score 56. I said, ‘right now I don’t give a damn about the 56 I’m just happy we got a win,’” he said.
“That’s just literally the first thing that came to my mind.”
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