While the narratives revolved around Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope making their return, LeBron James was the story of the night when he led the Los Angeles Lakers to a much-needed 122-109 win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Kuzma and Caldwell-Pope took a backseat to James, who erupted for another 50-point performance in front of the Laker faithful in attendance at Crypto.com Arena. The 37-year-old was in an offensive groove for the entire evening, shooting 18-of-25 from the field including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc in another masterful performance. For good measure, he also added seven rebounds, six assists and a block.
Even in Year 19, James finds ways to set new milestones as this is the first time he has recorded multiple 50-point games in the same season. To make the accomplishment more impressive, the King was able to do it in the same week.
The rest of the Lakers did their part to secure their victory as Malik Monk was the team’s second-leading scorer with 21 points. Monk was plagued by foul trouble in the third quarter and was forced to sit before catching fire in the fourth quarter.
Talen Horton-Tucker was also a key part of the win, leading the bench unit with 15 points to go along with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. The young guard has perked up since the All-Star break and continued the run he has been on.
He had arguably the biggest individual highlight of the night and it came at the expense of his former teammates as he spun past Caldwell-Pope and then dunked on Kuzma, causing the crowd to explode with excitement.
On the Washington side, Kuzma led the way against his former team with 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Kuzma actually held his own against James in the third quarter, before the latter took over the game on both ends of the floor. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, however, did not fare nearly as well as he only managed to score four points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Up next for the Lakers…
The Lakers have a tough back-to-back set as they hit the road to face off against the Western Conference-leading Phoenix Suns on Sunday before briefly returning home to play the Toronto Raptors on Monday. Things do not get easier as they will then draw a feisty Minnesota Timberwolves team.
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