The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling but LeBron James has been on one of the best offensive tears of his career, notching his 17th consecutive game with 25-plus points during a 113-107 loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday.
James has been carrying the load with Anthony Davis sidelined, with his streak of scoring coinciding with when the big man was sidelined with a knee injury. Davis is expected to return within the week but James doesn’t see that changing his output too much.
“I don’t need to score 30 a night, but I’m in one of the best zones offensively I’ve been in, in my career,” James told reporters after the Lakers’ latest loss, which dropped them to 23-24. “And I don’t plan on stopping. That’s just how I feel. I feel fantastic. Shooting the ball extremely well. Didn’t shoot the 3-ball well tonight, but all eight of them felt great. Shooting efficient from the free throw line, shooting efficient from the field. Very efficient at the rim.”
The Lakers have gone 7-10 with Davis out, with James averaging 32.5 points and shooting 53.4 percent from the field — otherworldly numbers for the 37-year-old.
“I don’t go into the game saying you got to score 30 or you guys don’t have a chance to win the game,” James said. “I just play the game. The scoring has been happening organically.”
Prior to the injury, Davis was averaging 23.3 points on 52.1% shooting, 9.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Where Davis has really been missed is on the defensive end, where he’s averaging 2.0 blocks, 1.2 steals and is a dominant presence in the paint.
Anthony Davis Not Quite Ready to Return Against Heat
There was hope that Davis could return against the Heat on Sunday after he was upgraded to questionable but it was not in the cards, with the team choosing to wait just a little longer.
“We knew this was the first game where it would be possible but still unlikely so we just checked in on how he felt yesterday knowing that he’d still be probably not ready yet but getting closer,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We have to make sure we do it safely and at the right pace and at the right time. In terms of what pushed it, we just knew he was getting close and we wanted have transparency with reporting that it wasn’t 100 percent that he wouldn’t play so we upgraded him to questionable. We knew it was probably unlikely. There was no setbacks or anything like that, just a matter of him getting closer.”
While James and the rest of the Lakers will welcome Davis back with open arms, there’s an understanding that he needs to be fully ready to roll before taking the court.
“We’ll say health first then rhythm,” James said. “Whenever AD is ready, we’re going to love that. That’s for sure. One of our biggest guns that we have and having him on the floor creates so much for us offensively and defensively. We’re able to do so much more, but his health is what’s most important.”
Lakers Comeback Comes Up Short Against Heat
The Lakers fell behind big in the first quarter against the Heat and it looked like LA was heading towards a double-digit loss. However, a strong fourth quarter run made things interesting, although the Lakers ultimately ended up falling to 23-24 with the loss.
“In the fourth quarter we played the type of basketball we want to play, but we dug ourselves too much of a hole early in the game,” James said.
The Lakers will continue their road trip with four more games, the next coming against the Nets on Tuesday.