Basketball

LeBron James tallies 47, near triple-double on 38th birthday in Lakers win vs. Hawks



LeBron James celebrated his 38th birthday with 47 points and a near triple-double in the Lakers’ 130-121 win over the Hawks on Friday night. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Along with the season-high 47 points, James recorded 10 rebounds and nine assists, one assist shy of his first triple-double this season.
  • James had played on his birthday eight previous times. He scored 48 points with 10 rebounds and six assists in 2009 with Cleveland.
  • Shaquille O’Neal holds the record for most points scored on a player’s birthday, set in 2000 when he tallied 61 on his 28th birthday.
  • James’ 47 points are the third most ever scored by a player at age 38 or older.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Backstory

James’ birthday scoring outburst wasn’t just historic, but also key for the Lakers. Los Angeles’ 15-point comeback made for its largest comeback win of the season as the Lakers improve to 15-21.

LeBron’s timely performance

James has been openly critical of the Lakers’ roster in recent weeks. He’s backed up his words by increasing his urgency and raising his level of play over that span. On Friday, two days after his eyebrow-raising postgame comments in Miami, James went a step further, turning back the clock with a season-best performance and almost single-handedly willing the Lakers to a win on his birthday.

James made timely 3s, cuts and drives in the fourth quarter, slicing and dicing Atlanta’s porous defense. He continues to redefine what greatness looks like for an aging athlete. — Buha

L.A. desperately needed this one

The Lakers, losers of five of their previous seven games entering Friday’s tilt against Atlanta, were desperate for a win to avoid a disastrous five-game road trip. Things are looking up for the Lakers, if only momentarily. They are now 2-2 on the trip, with a chance to exact revenge in Charlotte on Tuesday against a lowly Hornets squad that defeated them by four points in Los Angeles a week ago.

The Lakers also received some good news in the form of an encouraging update on Anthony Davis, who is progressing ahead of schedule from his right foot stress reaction injury, according to Davis and head coach Darvin Ham. — Buha

Highlights of the game

What they’re saying

Required reading:

(Photo: Brett Davis / USA T0day)





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