At age 38, LeBron James is still reaching new heights, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. For the first time in his 20 NBA seasons, James posted 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game Monday night as the Lakers rallied for an overtime win to take a commanding 3-1 lead over Memphis.
James’ performance was about much more than stats, however, as he banked in a layup high off the backboard to tie the game with less than a second left in regulation, then delivered a three-point play late in the extra session to put the game out of reach. He followed that final basket with a show of emotion, flexing his biceps and screaming toward the crowd.
“These are the moments that I love,” James said. “I love the postseason. I’ve been a part of a lot of the games and I just love being able to make plays and be out there with my teammates to give them experiences that they maybe never had before.”
There’s more on the Lakers:
- First-year coach Darvin Ham understands that it’s a rare experience to have one of the league’s all-time greatest players in his lineup, per Jim Alexander of The Orange County Register. Ham strikes a balance between marveling at James skills’ and still trying to make him better. “I don’t take it for granted,” he said, “being in the position to coach him.”
- James’ heroics came on a rare down night for Anthony Davis, who sources tell McMenamin was slowed by pain in his right hip, which he hurt two and a half weeks ago. Davis made just one of his first eight shots from the field, but still managed 12 points and 11 rebounds while playing 42 minutes. “Things aren’t always going to be perfect,” he said. “Sometimes you got to win ugly. Sometimes you don’t play well, but still try to leave your imprint on the game. And that’s what I tried to do tonight on the defensive end.”
- Austin Reaves was L.A.’s leading scorer on Monday with 23 points to go along with four rebounds and six assists. Appearing in his first playoff series, Reaves said he continues to feed off the crowd, which showered him with “MVP” chants once again. “The way that they support me, the way I believe that they love the way that I play. … I’m gonna give it everything I got every night,” Reaves said (video link from HoopsHype)