LeBron James has been carrying a heavy load for the Los Angeles Lakers to start this season, but he delivered big time on Sunday.
With 37 points and eight assists, he motored the Lakers to a hard-fought 105-104 win over the Houston Rockets to improve their record to 8-6.
Afterward, James admitted he didn’t “feel that great,” saying he was “under the weather” while admitting he was dealing with a couple of injuries.
This was the type of game where Los Angeles had to lean heavily on its stars in a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair. Anthony Davis scored 27 points, while Austin Reaves had 17 points in just 25 minutes. However, its role players didn’t pull their weight, and overall, the team shot just 6-of-29 on 3-point attempts.
LeBron: "I'm in a really good groove right now. I don't feel that great right now, dealing with a couple of injuries, little bit under the weather right now…the competition got me going a little bit."
— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) November 20, 2023
Before a loss on Monday to the Los Angeles Clippers and their former star, James Harden, the Rockets had rung up six consecutive wins. They’re starting to look like a potential playoff or play-in tournament team, and in particular, 21-year-old center Alperen Sengun could be approaching All-Star status. He scored 23 points while adding 10 rebounds and five assists, while forward Dillon Brooks got hot from downtown to score 24 points.
But James seemed determined to lead his team to victory. He has been playing phenomenally well to start the season, and a big key for him has been his 3-point shooting, which has dramatically improved compared to last season. After going 2-of-5 from that distance against Houston, he has made 39.7 percent of his treys this so far this season.
But a concern could be James’ minutes. Even though the Lakers wanted to limit his minutes and workload this season, he played 40 minutes on Sunday, and he’s now averaging 34.4 minutes a game on the season.
He has been nursing a calf contusion for just over a week, and at one point in Sunday’s contest, he appeared to possibly reaggravate the ailment.
But at this point of his career, knowing that this may be his last opportunity to win his fifth NBA championship, James isn’t inclined to make any excuses for himself or his team.