What LeBron James has done in his 19th NBA season is truly unbelievable. The Los Angeles Lakers superstar is battling for his second scoring title while pulling off performances on seemingly a nightly basis the league has never seen from a player of his age.
The latest came in LeBron’s hometown as he posted a triple-double of 38 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in the Lakers’ victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Additionally, James added another in his never-ending list of highlight reel dunks when he put good friend and former teammate Kevin Love on a poster in the second quarter.
After the game, head coach Frank Vogel couldn’t even try to describe the latest James performance.
“I’m all out. I don’t have anymore. There’s no words,” Vogel said. “Just look what he did. He had 38 points on no threes, four free throws. Ridiculous shooting percentage. Making fadeaways. Finding his way as a receiver and also the basket attacks, rolls to the basket and the fadeaways were the game for him tonight. He was in control. An all-time dunk on his old teammate, which was great for the fans. Great for the game and great for those two old friends. What a hell of a night.”
To score 38 points without a single 3-pointer is not often seen in this day and age, but LeBron was on another level on this night. As Vogel noted, James scored in so many different ways and his fadeaways were perfect as he hit a pair to ice the game in the fourth quarter and he took turns being the primary creator and also being on the receiving end as the Lakers tallied 34 assists as a team.
This season has been far from what was expected for this Lakers team, but that hasn’t taken away from LeBron’s performances and Vogel believes they are the primary reason the team still has confidence in making a run.
“Well, it’s at the top of the list,” the Lakers head coach noted. “When you have a difficult season, this is the NBA. This is a league that things don’t go the right way, it’s not a pleasant thing to be around. Many teams see it every year. I’ve been in it a long time and this team has not let go of the rope and the biggest No. 1 reason is because of how he’s played and how he’s led and what he represents in terms of having confidence about where we can ultimately get to.
“How we’ve played up to these 65-70 games or whatever it’s been, trial and error and nature of our season is not necessarily going to represent who we’re going to be in the play-in game and hopefully beyond that. We’re looking to continue to adjust and build something that’s going to win for us in the postseason. But like I said, for him what he represents is our guys sustaining that belief of what we can be.”
The Lakers may be a disappointment, but the Play-In is single elimination and with James having performances like this, they remain a team that can beat anyone on any given night.
Vogel insists James wants to be on the court every time the Lakers play
Making this more impressive for LeBron is that he is continuing to thrive despite dealing with knee issues. This had led to James sitting out some back-to-backs depending on the pain level, but that hasn’t been the case recently and Vogel insists that is because LeBron is pushing to play every night for the Lakers.
“To LeBron’s credit, I think the biggest thing going into the back-to-backs is he legit wants to be out there every night,” Vogel said. “Every time the team is playing, he wants to play. Unless there’s a reason for him not to play, he wants to play.
“And he knows he’s got to manage the knee and his overall load, but when he wakes up and gauges how he’s feeling the next day, if he’s well enough to play, it doesn’t matter if he’s close to Karl Malone or looking at the bigger picture or not, if he feels well enough to play, he wants to be in there and I think for him to be doing that in his 19th year is really something that I think this league needs that example of somebody that wants to be on the floor every time his team is out there and I think he should be commended for it.”
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