LeBron James turns 37 years old on Friday.
You would not believe it by the way he is dominating for the Los Angeles Lakers right now.
James just scored 30-plus points (37) for the sixth-straight game, surpassing Kobe Bryant to become the oldest NBA player in history to do so.
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Sat, 15 Jan
Saturday January 15th
And yet, even that is not enough right now.
Once again, the Lakers crumbled late and slumped to a 104-99 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
James had 13 rebounds and seven assists to go with those 37 points but in the final quarter, when he needed help to get the Lakers over the line, there was not enough of it.
The Lakers were outscored 26-16 in the fourth, with one three-minute exchange seeing three turnovers and four missed shots as the Grizzlies went from one down to seven up.
The final possession of the night said it all, with Russell Westbrook open in the corner but Malik Monk seemingly not trusting him to put up the shot.
It then all ended with a James turnover, proof that even the soon-to-be 37-year-old is not always perfect.
Nor can he be relied on to make the big plays after carrying the team for the other 38 minutes he was on the court.
This season was supposed to be about easing the pressure on James but instead he is averaging the most playing minutes in his career since the 2016-17 season.
Westbrook had another triple double (16 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds) but combined with James for 10 of the Lakers’ 18 turnovers.
Meanwhile, Talen Horton-Tucker again struggled after putting up just two points in 21 minutes in the last-start victory over the Houston Rockets.
The young guard agreed to a three-year, $32 million ($A44m) contract in free agency but has been floated as one possible Laker who could be on the move before the trade deadline.
On the other side of the floor, Ja Morant put up 41 points (25 in the second half) along with 10 rebounds while making a career-high six 3-pointers.
CELTICS HIT ‘MIND-BOGGLING’ LOW
The depleted Los Angeles Clippers have finished 91-82 winners as the Boston Celtics hit an astonishing low on Thursday.
The Clippers had nine players unavailable including stars Kawhi Leonard (ACL) and Paul George (torn ulnar collateral ligament) while the Celtics were without seven players of their own.
Even still, everyone was expecting a response from Boston after collapsing in a last-start defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Instead, the Celtics made just four of 42 attempts from deep and 35 of 101 total shots (season-high) from the field in another embarrassing defeat.
Boston scored 54 of its 82 points inside the paint but persisted with also shooting from deep despite its struggles throughout the game.
“We just came up short. We just came up f***ing short,” Jaylen Brown said post-game.
“It’s just a s****y game. We wanted to come back and respond after not playing too well in Minnesota. We played hard but we ended up in a loss; that’s it.”
As for whether the bad shooting was contagious, Brown simply replied: “S***, I guess so”.
Eric Bledsoe and Marcus Morris Sr. led the way for the Clippers, combining to score all 17 of their final points in the game to finish with 23 and 17 respectively.
Jaylen Brown, meanwhile, had 30 points for Boston but could not record a single assist.
‘ABSOLUTELY ASTONISHING’ NUMBERS AS KNICKS SURVIVE SCARE
Alec Burks and the second unit have rallied the New York Knicks to a 94-85 victory over the NBA’s worst team, the Deroit Pistons, who also happened to be decimated by COVID-19.
While the starters were abysmal, Burks came off the bench to explode for 34 points in 27 minutes and guide the Knicks back from a 14-point deficit after a third quarter from hell.
Burks was spectacular and smooth in making 12 of 17 shots, 5 of 8 from 3-point land and making all five of his free throws.
The Knicks also needed 18 bench points from Immanuel Quickley as the team moved to 17-18.
The Knicks could not even get Quickley’s name right though, with the backup point guard’s last name spelt incorrectly on his jersey.
The Pistons outscored the Knicks, 25-4, to start the third quarter and seize a 14-point lead as coach Tom Thibodeau was ranting and shaking his head most of the period.
The Knicks came out dead for the second half — missing 14 of their first 15 shots and committing seven turnovers.
For the second straight game, Julius Randle struggled massively, scoring five points on 2 of 11 shooting, and sat the fourth quarter as the Knicks regained control. He finished minus-27.
Point guard Kemba Walker, playing the second night of a back-to-back, had no pep and finished with two points and two assists in 20 minutes — also benched for the final frame.
The Pistons (5-28) had 11 players out — nine due to COVID-19 protocols, including Cade Cunningham, Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk, Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes.
The mostly healthy Knicks had a surprise late scratch in starting shooting guard Evan Fournier, who tweaked his ankle in pregame warm-ups and sat on the bench.
Rookie Quentin Grimes started in Fournier’s place but was off kilter, bricking all five of his shots — all 3-pointers. Grimes went scoreless.
The second unit shined late in the third quarter.
Burks scored on a traditional three-point play in the final seconds of the third to give the Knicks momentum entering the fourth, down 71-64.
Saddiq Bey and Queens native Hamidou Diallo led the Pistons with 32 points and 31 points, respectively.
It was a brutal start to a game that could well have been cancelled if not for NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s edict for teams to sign as many replacement players as possible.
The teams combined to miss 12 of the game’s first 13 shots.
While Walker started, rookie point guard Miles McBride entered midway through the first quarter and played a nine-minute stint, providing defence as the Knicks regained the lead and led 48-41 at halftime.
When Burks drained one final 3-pointer to clinch it with 2:30 left to put the Knicks ahead by eight, even Randle was up off the bench, clapping and yelling for Burks.
– New York Post
HORNETS 116 PACERS 108
HAWKS 117 BULLS 131
KNICKS 94 PISTONS 85
CLIPPERS 91 CELTICS 82
LAKERS 99 GRIZZLIES 104
THUNDER 97 SUNS 115
JAZZ 120 TRAIL BLAZERS 105
MAVERICKS 94 KINGS 95