Bron James once again showed that age is just a number as he scored a season-high 40 points on Saturday to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 129-120 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The 38-year-old provided an offensive masterclass as he became the first player in their 21st NBA season to record a 40-point game, going 13-for-20 from the field, including making all five of his threes. He also added seven boards and seven assists.
“We needed this win,” James, who turns 39 in a week, said later, per ESPN. “We didn’t want to end the road trip in a losing effort. To come in here to play versus a team that’s been playing extremely well throughout this season, it was a big win for us.”
After a four-game losing streak, this had been labelled a “must win” game for the Lakers by Anthony Davis and coach Darvin Ham altered the starting lineup in an attempt to improve the defense beforehand.
It was a move that paid dividends, with Ham later paying tribute to “that size and physicality out there,” as the Lakers overpowered the Thunder to lead by 12 at the break.
D’Angelo Russell, who had been moved to the bench, gave 15 points in 18 minutes, while Davis added 26 points and Rui Hachimura 21 points.
But it was James who provided the decisive contributions, hitting 11 points in the final 4:29 to seal victory after the Thunder had cut the Lakers’ lead from 26 to just eight points halfway through the fourth quarter.
The Thunder had been riding a three-game winning streak but, despite 34 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams’ 28 points, they could not beat the Lakers.
“All I care about is tomorrow’s day off,” James added afterwards. “I can give a damn about Monday. The only thing I care about Monday right now is my daughter waking up and opening up her gifts. That’s it.
“Please don’t even talk to me about Christmas Day right now. Christmas Eve is what I’m looking forward to. I’m ready to get my ass on this couch.”
The Lakers next play on Christmas Day when they host the Boston Celtics.