THE LA Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 130-121 Saturday morning (Manila) on King James’ birthday.
James seems to turn it up a notch when playing on his birthday. He just turned 25 years old on December 30, 2009 when he scored his highest. It was a 48-point performance.
So it is quite impressive that in the twilight of his basketball career, 13 years later, on his 38th birthday, he was just a point shy of his best with 47 points to go with 10 rebounds and 9 assists. More importantly, a much needed win after a grueling trip that has seen the Lakers lose 4 out of 5 games on the road.
His teammate interrupted his courtside interview after the game just to say that James predicted that he’d score 40 points. It didn’t look like it in the beginning as he was struggling to get a shot in the first quarter, scoring just two points from 1 of 5 shooting. He ended up going 18 for 27 on the floor and four for six beyond the arc.
Lakers center Thomas Bryant made sure it’s a happy birthday celebration as he contributed a double double with 19 points and 17 rebounds. Russel Westbrook almost had another triple double with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists.
The Lakers were trailing by as many as 10 points in the first quarter and by nine points seven minutes into the third. This seemed like it was going to be another road loss for a team carrying a losing record when not in the comforts of their home arena.
James though was full of energy in the entire game, going for loose balls and making some spectacular dunks as he had most of his points in the paint.
LA finally pulled away in the fourth quarter behind some strong shooting, defensive stops and another spectacular performance from the man from Akron, Ohio on his birthday.
Atlanta star player Trae Young tried to keep the Hawks in the game. Leading six players in double figures with 29 points and 8 assists.
The Lakers open the new year at Charlotte on January 3 at 8am Manila time.