Behind a dominant fourth quarter that may have been fueled in part by an over-exuberant Cleveland Cavaliers front office member, LeBron James scored 46 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a win at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
In doing so, James became the oldest Lakers player (36 years, 26 days) with a 40-point game since Kobe Bryant had 60 in his memorable career finale. Bryant was 37 years and 234 days old when he authored the best final game the NBA has ever seen.
James’ 46 points additionally represented a season high and the most he’s ever scored against the Cavaliers. That previously was the 51 points he put on his former team as a member of the Miami Heat during the 2018-19 season.
The timing of James accomplishing a feat that hadn’t been seen since Bryant was appropriate in that it came on the eve of the five-time champion’s memory — along with his daughter Gianna and the seven others who passed away in last year’s accident — being celebrated.
Bryant’s presence continues to be felt with the Lakers organization, and the team still breaks their huddles with “Mamba on three.” But for as much as the franchise carries on Bryant’s legacy, James has attempted to keep the focus on moving forward rather than reliving the horrific day.
“I try not to put myself back in that headspace because it’s just too dark for not only myself, but our organization and for everyone involved,” James said this week. “As the leader of the ballclub it was my job and responsibility to take it all on and represent our team with the most strength that I could prosper at that point in time.
“For the purple and gold, for Laker Nation, it was my job to take that responsibility. I wanted to let everyone inside this organization know that I was OK with doing that.”
Lakers take day to be in private
Head coach Frank Vogel gave the Lakers a day off Tuesday so they could navigate an emotional day however they feel is best.
“To me it’s not really a day of remembrance. Those are days like his birthday, the 81-point night and things like that,” Vogel explained.
“This is more of a somber tone, so I’m going to give our guys the day off and let them be to themselves and manage that day however they see fit. We’ll have some workouts and shooting available if guys want to do that, but it’s going to be a day off.”
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