James scores season-high 43, Lakers beat Trail Blazers

Dec 31, 2021, 8:04 AM | Updated: 11:16 pm
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) motions to the crowd during the first half of the team'...

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) motions to the crowd during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Friday Dec. 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/John McCoy)

(AP Photo/John McCoy)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — One day after quietly celebrating his 37th birthday at home with his family, LeBron James put on an age-defying performance.

James became the oldest player in NBA history to have a game with at least 40 points and 14 rebounds, scoring a season-high 43 on Friday night as the Los Angeles Lakers rolled to a 139-106 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

According to Sportradar, the oldest player to have a 40-14 game was Larry Bird, who was 35 when he had 49 points and 14 boards for the Boston Celtics in 1992 (which coincidentally also came against the Trail Blazers).

“I don’t feel like I have been in the league 19 years. When I am daily reminded of it, I feel it sometimes,” James said after his 67th 40-point game of his career and sixth in four seasons with the Lakers. “Sometimes you do have to remind people you can still do what you can do at a high level.”

James was 16 of 26 from the field and made five 3-pointers in a game where the Lakers led throughout.

“If that’s what our team needs to win, I’m OK with that,” said James, who during the last seven games — including Friday — is averaging 36 points and has made 57.8% of his shots from the field. “I’m not a guy who goes out and sees if I can jack up a bunch of shots. The streak I have been on with my scoring I have been efficient. I take pride in that as a player.”

His seven-game streak is not an anomaly: He’s done it four other times. But this is the first since he was with Miami Heat in February 2013. James’ longest stretch is 10 with the Cleveland Cavaliers late in the 2005-06 season.

The Lakers were up 69-54 at halftime on 27 points from James, who went coast-to-coast for a dunk to give Los Angeles a 53-37 advantage midway through the second quarter. He topped the 40-point mark on a 3-pointer from 27 feet out with 8:25 remaining to put the Lakers up 109-84.

Los Angeles’ largest lead was 35 in the game’s final minute.

“This is just LeBron James playing at a superior level more than what is happening around him,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “While (Anthony Davis) is out, he is intent on doing everything he can to pile up wins and play at an extra-high level.”

Malik Monk scored 18 points, Carmelo Anthony added 16 points and Russell Westbrook (15 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) recorded his ninth triple-double this season for the Lakers, who had dropped six of their last seven coming into the game.

Portland’s Ben McLemore came off the bench to tie his season-high with 28 points in his first game back after clearing the league’s health and safety protocols. Damian Lillard added 18 points for the Trail Blazers, who have dropped four straight and 11 of their last 13.

“I don’t think we played with enough force. They dictated the start,” said Portland assistant coach Scott Brooks, who is directing the team while head coach Chauncey Billups is in the league’s COVID-19 protocols. “They were attacking on both ends of the floor and we were back on our heels. You can’t do that against good teams. We gave them too much respect.”

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Portland had a season-high 21 offensive rebounds. … McLemore’s 16 points in the first quarter were a season-high for a player coming off the bench during the first 12 minutes of a game this season. … Lillard hit a 3-pointer late in the second quarter to tie Paul Pierce ninth on the all-time NBA list with 2,143.

Lakers: Los Angeles made a season-high 19 3-pointers … The team’s 43 first-quarter points were a season high. … With his second field goal of the night, Anthony passed Dominique Wilkins for 15th place on the NBA’s all-time field goals made list. … Vogel was back on the Lakers’ sideline after missing six games after testing positive for COVID-19.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Host Atlanta on Monday to begin a four-game homestand.

Lakers: Host Minnesota on Sunday.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - The tarp covers the infield as rain falls before a scheduled baseball game between the New Y...
Associated Press

Rainy season: Guardians postpone celebration due to forecast

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Guardians might as well keep umbrellas in their bat rack. Cleveland was forced to postpone a celebration and flag-raising ceremony Tuesday to honor its AL Central title before the opener of a three-game series against Tampa Bay due to a rainy weather forecast. The pregame pageantry has been pushed back until […]
14 hours ago
United States' Christian Pulisic controls the ball during the international friendly soccer match b...
Associated Press

US World Cup worries grow, 0-0 draw vs Saudis in last tuneup

The United States ended its World Cup tuneup matches in unimpressive fashion, playing a 0-0 draw against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night at Murcia, Spain, that saw oft-injured Gio Reyna come off in the 30th minute because of muscle tightness. Christian Pulisic returned to the depleted U.S. lineup after missing Friday’s 2-0 loss to No. […]
14 hours ago
Attorney Alexandra Benevento, center, speaks with reporters during a news conference announcing a c...
Associated Press

Sex abuse allegations spread against cheerleading industry

Sprawling allegations of abuse against cheerleaders reached Tennessee on Monday in a case that escalates the accusations facing some of the sport’s top institutions. An adult coach sexually assaulted teenage boys at Premier Athletics, according to allegations in a federal lawsuit filed in Memphis that is similar to a previous complaint against Rockstar Cheer in […]
2 days ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge looks out before a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox Sunday, S...
Associated Press

MLB playoff primer: Things to know as postseason nears

Major League Baseball’s postseason has a little more heft this season. The playoffs are rapidly approaching, with the final regular season games set for Oct. 5. The postseason begins two days later with a field of 12 teams — up from last year’s 10 — and includes a best-of-three format for the opening wild-card round. […]
2 days ago
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (3) strips the ball from New York Giants wide receiver Ster...
Associated Press

Veteran Giants receiver Sterling Shepard has torn ACL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the New York Giants’ final offensive play in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys, coach Brian Daboll said Tuesday. Daboll had indicated after Monday night’s game that the injury to New York’s leading receiver was […]
2 days ago
Stephen F. Austin safety JaTerious Evans brings down the Warner quarterback for a sack during an NC...
Associated Press

‘Whoa, 98-0’: Coach of team on end of huge loss OK with it

Two days after his Warner University football team lost 98-0 to Stephen F. Austin in one of the most lopsided games of all time, Dialleo Burks channeled his inner P.T. Barnum. Like the 19th-century circus impresario once said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. It was in that vein that Burks recalled a conversation […]
2 days ago
James scores season-high 43, Lakers beat Trail Blazers