San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel did not sense any nerves from rookie Brock Purdy in his playoff debut before throwing three touchdowns with a rushing score in Saturday's 41-23 Wild Card win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Purdy, dubbed Mr Irrelevant after being the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, stole the show at Levi's Stadium, becoming the first rookie QB to win a playoff game since Russell Wilson in 2012.

The 23-year-old quarterback finished 18-of-30 for 332 yards, becoming the youngest player in NFL history with 300-plus passing yards and three-plus touchdown passes in a postseason game, surpassing Dan Marino.

However, the game did not start so well for Purdy, whose first pass was almost intercepted in wet conditions, before starring in the second half after trailing 17-16 at halftime.

"I don't think there were any nerves at all," Samuel, who caught one of Purdy's three touchdown passes for a 74-yard score, told reporters.

"We kind of started off slow. We missed a couple here and there, but as the game slowed down and settled down for him, he knows the guys that he has around him to build him up.

"It started to slow down for him too in the second half and he went out there and played good ball."

Purdy, who had only been afforded his opportunity as the 49ers' starting QB due to injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance, is now 6-0 as a starter.

"There was some emotion going into the game," Purdy said. "You could just feel it in the environment with the fans and our teammates like, this is win or go home.

"But once the game started, it was all, hey, it's 11-on-11, I've got to do my job. I've got to get it to the guys when they're in space and go from there. But we didn't make it more than what it was.

"You could feel it in the first half in terms of Seattle's playing really good football, it's playoff football, everyone plays their best football.

"I feel like that was just something that we had in the back of our minds too. But overall, it wasn't 'oh my gosh, we're in the playoffs, we got to get all tense or anything like that.' So we've just got to play our game and let everything else fall into place."

Purdy's 332 yards is the second most ever by a rookie in a postseason game, behind Wilson's 385 with the Seahawks against the Atlanta Falcons in 2013.

Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan added: "We just had to win the game and he's done a hell of a job. He's done it every time since. I have a lot of confidence in him."

Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll remarked that Purdy's ability to keep plays alive made a major difference, finding Elijah Mitchell for a TD pass on a broken play in the fourth quarter.

"I don't know why we couldn't sack the guy," Carroll said. "We chased him all over the place. He's not noted for being the greatest scrambler, but he looked like Fran Tarkenton out there today."

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James also took to Twitter to hail Purdy, writing: "Purdy got game!!!!!!!".

When told about the tweet, Purdy replied: "LeBron said that. Oh, that's sweet. That's awesome, that's so cool."

Jayson Tatum recorded his 17th double-double of the season as the short-handed Boston Celtics won 109-98 over the Brooklyn Nets in their first game with the injured Kevin Durant on Thursday.

Tatum top scored for Boston with 20 points on seven-of-22 shooting from the field, making two-of-10 from three-point range, with 11 rebounds and five assists.

The Celtics small forward notched his fifth assist with a pass for Derrick White's three-pointer with 1:12 remaining in the fourth to put the dagger in and seal the win.

The victory is Boston's fifth straight win, while it improves their NBA-best road record to 14-7.

The Celtics are 7-0 from the second game of back-to-backs this season, and they achieved that without Jaylen Brown (adductor) who had scored 41 on Wednesday.

Marcus Short added 16 points, while White drained four triples in his 15-point haul. Malcolm Brogdon contributed 16 off the bench.

Kyrie Irving had a game-high 24 points for the Nets, who went 5-16 without Durant during a month-and-a-half stint on the sidelines last season.

Ben Simmons scored zero points from three shots, marking his second scoreless game of his season and career. However, he did have a season-high 13 assists, while T.J. Warren scored 20 points off the bench.

Giddey up as OKC down 76ers

James Harden recorded 15 assists for the sixth time this season but the Philadelphia 76ers were beaten 133-114 at home by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his outstanding season with 37 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Josh Giddey added 20 points and eight assists for OKC, who fought back from a third-quarter deficit to lead by 16 at the final change.

Harden had 24 points with six rebounds and 15 assists, with Joel Embiid scoring 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field with 10 rebounds.

Doncic triple-double in Mavs' 2OT win

Luka Doncic scored game-tying three-pointers at the end of regulation and the first overtime before the Dallas Mavericks triumphed 119-115 in a physical double OT clash over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Doncic, who went 16 minutes without a basket at one point, finished the game with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists, while Christian Wood came up clutch protecting the rim late with 24 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.

LeBron James tried valiantly for the Lakers with 24 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists with two steals, while Russell Westbrook added 28 points off the bench, including two crucial free-throws at the end of regulation .

LeBron James will not feature for the Los Angeles Lakers in their game at the Denver Nuggets on Monday after being listed as out with ankle soreness.

James has been in excellent form for the Lakers as they continue to recover from a desperate start to the season that saw them lose 10 of their first 12 games.

The 38-year-old is averaging 29.1 points per game, along with 8.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists, as the Lakers have improved from 2-10 to 19-21, including winning their last five.

They have averaged 125.8 points per game during that win streak, last winning five in a row while averaging at least 125 points in the 1987-88 season.

After scoring a combined 90 in wins at the Atlanta Hawks (47) and Charlotte Hornets (43), James missed the victory against his former team the Miami Heat on Wednesday with an ankle problem, before returning to score 25 against the Hawks on Friday and 37 against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.

However, the Lakers listed their star man – the Western Conference Player of the Week – as out again ahead of Monday's clash in Denver, citing left ankle soreness.

James is 20-20 against the Nuggets. He does not have a career losing record against any team.

LeBron James has expressed his frustration at the lack of trade movement for the Los Angeles Lakers following the 136-134 victory against the Sacramento Kings.

A fifth consecutive win saw the Lakers improve to 19-21, a game back of the 10th seed Utah Jazz, who occupy what would be the final place in the Western Conference play-in tournament.

That is still well below the expectations that surround James and the Lakers franchise, and their inactivity in the market has raised eyebrows, as has the apparent reluctance to trade the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks that some feel can be used to improve the roster.

With the February 9 trade deadline on the horizon, James made it clear his patience on the matter is waning, telling the Athletic: "I play the game. I worry about who's in the locker room. I can't do nobody else's job.

"Listen, you guys know. It's not rocket science. I'm doing what's best for my guys in the locker room. That's all I can worry about.

"Y'all know what the f*** should be happening. I don't need to talk."

The Lakers were reportedly considering trading Russell Westbrook and both first-rounders to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield but elected to wait for a deal that would have a greater impact upon the team.

Despite the loss of key players and poor early-season form, the Lakers sit just two wins off sixth place and are 7.5 games adrift of Western Conference leaders the Denver Nuggets.

The Los Angeles Lakers are "trending in the right direction" after beating the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, according to coach Darvin Ham.

An awful start to the season saw them lose 10 of their first 12 games, but the Lakers' form has evened out and their 136-134 win over the Kings made it five victories in a row to move them on to 19-21 for the campaign.

LeBron James posted 37 points as well as eight rebounds and seven assists as the visitors secured their latest win at Golden 1 Center.

Ham pointed to his team's struggles earlier in the season – including two defeats to the Kings – as partly responsible for their recent upturn, saying after the game the Lakers are "trending in the right direction and learning from our mistakes." 

He added: "A couple of months back we'd have lost a game like this, and back then sitting here with you guys in post-game pressers telling you as much as it hurt, we need to go through this process, we need to learn, trial by fire.

"All those experiences are causing us to be more conscious on offense, not just throwing away possessions late in the game.

"At the end of the day, everything we have gone through this season I think has been a huge education for us."

Thomas Bryant, who scored 29 points along with claiming 14 rebounds, also praised his team-mates for their resilience.

"It says a lot about the confidence, the strong resiliency that we try and bring each and every night out," the former Washington Wizards center said.

"I know each and every last one of those guys are proud of each other out there."

LeBron James scored 37 points and Russell Westbrook added 23 points and 15 assists off the bench as the Los Angeles Lakers sneaked past the Sacramento Kings 136-134 on Saturday.

The win made it five straight victories for the Lakers, who were missing Anthony Davis (foot), as they improved to 19-21.

Dennis Schroder hit two free-throws with 3.1 seconds remaining before De'Aaron Fox missed a 43-foot attempt on the buzzer. Fox had squared the game up at 134-all with a 14-foot shot with 7.1 seconds remaining.

James' driving layup and one with 48 seconds left had earned the Lakers the lead which they never gave up.

The four-time NBA MVP scored 10 fourth-quarter points, shooting at 50 per cent for the game, finishing with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Schroder added 27 points with four-of-five from three-point range, while Thomas Bryant added 29 points and 14 rebounds.

Westbrook played 34 minutes, making a strong contribution, becoming only the second player to reach 20 points, five rebounds and 15 assists off the bench since starters were first tracked in 1970-71.

Fox scored 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field, with Domantas Sabonis having 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

Doncic triple-double in Mavs win

Luka Doncic had his ninth triple-double of the season with 34 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Dallas Mavericks beat the New Orleans Pelicans 127-117.

Dallas raced to a 34-15 quarter-time lead with Christian Wood starring early to finish with 28 points, while exciting rookie Jaden Hardy scored 15 for the second straight time.

The Pels, playing without leading scorers Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum, were led by Jonas Valanciunas with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Tatum guides Celtics past Spurs

Jayson Tatum scored 34 points on 13-of-26 shooting as he lifted the Boston Celtics past the San Antonio Spurs 121-116.

Tatum scored a tiebreaking jumper with 33 seconds left, while Jaylen Brown added 29 points and Malcolm Brogdon contributed 23 off the bench.

The Spurs pushed the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics all game, with eight players scoring double digits for the home team, led by Zach Collins with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

LeBron James claimed it does not feel right to match records when it comes in "a losing effort".

James is averaging 28.9 points per game this season for the Los Angeles Lakers, and amassed 25 points in Friday's 130-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

That victory made it four wins on the bounce for the Lakers, who have begun a bounce back from a dismal streak of one win in six.

But the Lakers remain 12th in the Western Conference with an 18-21 record for the season.

James, who turned 38 last month, is closing in on the all-time regular-season points record, held by former Milwaukee Bucks and Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who accumulated 38,387 across a long career.

Yet James is not interested in achievements if they come when the team are struggling.

"I want to win. [The losing is] not sitting well with me," James told ESPN.

"I don't like having accomplishments, and it don't feel right, when it comes in a losing effort.

"We sit here right now as a franchise and as a team that's below .500. We've been playing some good basketball as of late, but we want to and I want to win at the highest level.

"Breaking records or setting records or passing greats in a losing effort has never been a DNA of mine."

James was instrumental for the Lakers against the Hawks, adding 10 assists and seven rebounds to his tally of points.

Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Nunn also impressed for the Lakers, who were depleted by injuries. Indeed, James himself had only just recovered from illness.

Westbrook said: "There are going to be times where guys go down, unfortunately, and we have a group of guys that have just been preparing themselves for when it's their moment to play and play well.

"[It] seems like we've been hitting a good stride of figuring that out."

Coach Darvin Ham said: "It's motivating them to step their games up. They know I'll put anybody out there, and if they're playing the right way, they'll play a significant amount of minutes."

Zach Lavine torched the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night to deliver a 126-112 road win for the Chicago Bulls.

Lavine finished two points off his season-high with 41 points on 14-of-19 shooting, and he made history with his marksmanship from long range.

He hit 11 of his 13 three-point attempts (84.6 per cent), joining Stephen Curry as the only players in NBA history to hit at least 11 three-pointers in a game at over 80 per cent efficiency.

Over his past five games, Lavine is averaging 27.6 points while shooting 54.8 per cent from the field, 55.3 per cent from deep and 96.2 per cent at the free throw line.

Against the 76ers, Lavine was supported well by third-year forward and former top-five draft pick Patrick Williams, who scored 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting with six rebounds. 

It is the latest impressive sign from Williams, who had his best game of the season on Wednesday with 22 points (six-of-eight shooting), seven rebounds and two steals in an upset win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The 76ers were without franchise centrepiece Joel Embiid, and James Harden put together a poor performance, finishing four-of-17 from the field for his 17 points and 11 assists.

Chicago have won seven of their past 10 to improve their record to 18-21 – two games behind the Eastern Conference's eight seed, currently occupied by the Miami Heat (20-19).

Lakers win fourth on the trot

LeBron James was at his playmaking best in the Los Angeles Lakers' 130-114 victory on the road against the Atlanta Hawks.

James had 17 points and 10 assists at three-quarter time, and after the Hawks cut the margin to 10 points early in the last period, James responded by scoring eight of the Lakers' next 10 points to put the game to bed.

He shot 10-of-19 for his 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, while Russell Westbrook flirted with another triple-double off the bench, posting 18 points (seven-of-14), 11 rebounds and nine assists.

Nuggets take top spot in the West

The Denver Nuggets (26-13) are now alone atop the Western Conference standings after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-108.

It is the Nuggets' ninth win from their past 11 fixtures, and they were once again carried by reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic with 28 points (10-of-17 shooting), 15 rebounds and 10 assists.

Jokic averaged 29.2 points, 12.3 rebounds and 10.1 assists during the month of December as he continues to build a case to become the first MVP three-peat since Larry Bird from 1984-86.

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James will miss the Los Angeles Lakers' clash with the Miami Heat on Wednesday due to a non-COVID-related illness.

James is fresh from back-to-back 40-point games for the Lakers, including scoring 47 points on his 38th birthday against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Lakers forward has stepped up during Anthony Davis' absence due to a foot injury, averaging 31.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.0 assists through December.

James is averaging 29.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists across the season for the Lakers, who are 16-21.

Damar Hamlin had the American sporting community rooting for him after the Buffalo Bills safety suffered an on-field cardiac arrest, as team-mate Josh Allen pleaded: "Please pray for our brother."

Hamlin was in a critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, having collapsed during Monday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin made a tackle on Bengals receiver Tee Higgins in the first quarter, and after briefly returning to his feet, he slumped to the ground.

He was administered CPR on the field, before being loaded into a waiting ambulance and rushed away.

Amid harrowing scenes, the game was suspended while the Bengals were leading 7-3 with 5:58 remaining in the first period.

Allen led the call for prayer for Hamlin, with well-wishers from across sport, entertainment and politics also sending thoughts and best wishes.

Former Chargers and Saints quarterback Drew Brees wrote on Twitter: "Damar Hamlin represents every one of us and every team-mate we've ever had.

"I've never met him, but I know him as a member of our brotherhood. My family and I pray for him and his family as he recovers. God be with him."

Michael Vick and Patrick Mahomes also said they were praying for Hamlin, the latter adding: "Please be okay man."

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill added: "Praying for Damar Hamlin, his family and everyone in Buffalo... no words for a situation like this."

The NFL said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with Damar, his family and the Buffalo Bills."

Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt said: "The game is not important. Damar Hamlin’s life is important. Please be ok. Please."

From basketball, the NBA said: "The entire NBA family's thoughts and prayers are with Damar Hamlin, his family and the NFL community."

That was reflected in post-game comments from a number of leading stars after Monday's NBA action, with Lakers superstar LeBron James saying: "My thoughts and super prayers goes up to the skies above for that kid's family, for him, for that brotherhood of the NFL and everybody a part of the NFL family."

James said it was "definitely the right call" to abandon the game for the night.

He said of the incident: "It was a terrible thing to see and I wish nothing but the best for that kid, for the city of Buffalo, for the franchise of the Bills and like I said, for the rest of the NFL as well and also the Bengals that was there and playing in that game."

Klay Thompson, from the Golden State Warriors, added: "As athletes, sometimes the game can overshadow us as individuals or people.

"On behalf of the organisation, we wish him the best. We're keeping him in our prayers and hoping for the best possible outcome. He's a tremendous person and it's bigger than the sport."

Hollywood actor Ben Stiller, a big sports fan, wrote: "Sending good thoughts and prayers to Damar Hamlin and his family."

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said: "Our prayers are with Damar Hamlin."

Amid the focus on Hamlin's plight, there was a surge in donations to a Christmas fundraiser the Bills star organised in 2020, to raise money to buy toys for children hit hard by the pandemic.

The fundraiser's target had been $2,500, but its running tally passed $3million by the early hours of Tuesday.

LeBron James' ability to take care of himself allows the Los Angeles Lakers to still rely on the 38-year-old, says coach Darvin Ham.

Having managed 47 points in Friday's win at the Atlanta Hawks, James scored 43 in the Lakers' 121-115 victory against the Charlotte Hornets, becoming the first player beyond the age of 38 to score 40 or more in consecutive games since Michael Jordan.

James, who also recorded 11 rebounds and six assists at Spectrum Center in almost 40 minutes on court, turned 38 on Friday.

"I just want to ride him," Ham said after the win. "And he allows you to do that because he takes such great care of himself. So, it's a great luxury to have."

James has been in impressive form of late, averaging 34.5 points from his last 11 games. He insisted his consistency is unrelated to carrying more pressure following the recent injury to Anthony Davis, though his form also improved last season when Davis was sidelined.

"Last year is last year," James said when it was put to him. "Obviously, I found a good groove last year. But this year is this year, as well. I feel really good in every facet of my game."

Austin Reaves, who scored 15 points with six rebounds and seven assists in just over 22 minutes of action, also paid tribute to James' conditioning.

"It's incredible," Reaves said. "To see him at his age... the stuff that he does, the way that he moves, the contact that he endures in a full game and just the way that his body has held up this whole time, it's super impressive.

"But it's a testament to what he does on a daily basis. He's always the first one in the training room, the first one taking care of his body and also getting the work in as well. So, to say the least, I'm happy to be on his team."

Donovan Mitchell shattered the Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise record with 71 points in his side's 145-134 home victory against the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

The Cavaliers' previous record for most points in one game belongs to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, who both had a 57-point game in a Cleveland uniform in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Mitchell also came through in a pivotal moment late in the fourth quarter to force overtime after being fouled with three seconds remaining, trailing by three. He made the first free throw, before missing the second and getting his own offensive rebound and putting it back in to tie the game.

He went on to outscore the Bulls 13-4 by himself in the extra period, finishing 22-of-34 from the field, seven-of-15 from deep and 20-of-25 from the free throw line while adding 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Mitchell blew his own career-highs out of the water, having never previously scored more than 46 points in a regular season game, although he had games of 57 and 51 in the Utah Jazz's 2020 playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.

He scored or assisted on 99 of the Cavaliers' 145 points – the second most all-time, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance in 1962 where he contributed to 104 points.

Mitchell joins Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson, David Thompson and Devin Booker as the only players to reach the 70-point figure.

It overshadowed a terrific performance from Chicago's DeMar DeRozan, who scored a team-high 44 points on 16-of-32 shooting with four assists and four steals.

LeBron carries the Lakers in vintage display

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James willed his side to a 121-115 road win against the Charlotte Hornets with his second consecutive 40-point game.

After putting up a season-high 47 points his last time out against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, James almost matched it against Charlotte, scoring a game-high 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting with 11 rebounds and six assists.

He was the only Lakers player to score more than 18 points, as Thomas Bryant played strong supporting role with 18 points (nine-of-17 shooting) and 15 rebounds.

The Lakers have now won three of their past four to improve to 16-21 – four games behind the Sacramento Kings (19-16) in the Western Conference's sixth seed.

Nets make it 12 in a row

The Brooklyn Nets own this season's longest winning streak after rattling off their 12th in a row with a 139-103 drubbing of the San Antonio Spurs.

Brooklyn's two offensive centrepieces were both at the top of their game. Kevin Durant scored 25 points on wildly efficient 10-of-14 shooting with 11 assists, while Kyrie Irving scored his game-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

The highlight of the game came when Irving crashed the offensive rebounds on a Yuta Watanabe miss, rising up for a surprising put-back dunk that sent the Barclays Center crowd into raptures.

Brooklyn are now 25-12 after beginning the season 1-5, and trail the Boston Celtics (26-11) by one game in the race for the league's best record.

Donovan Mitchell shattered the Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise record with 71 points in his side's 145-134 home victory against the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

The Cavaliers' previous record for most points in one game belongs to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, who both had a 57-point game in a Cleveland uniform in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Mitchell also came through in a pivotal moment late in the fourth quarter to force overtime after being fouled with three seconds remaining, trailing by three. He made the first free throw, before missing the second and getting his own offensive rebound and putting it back in to tie the game.

He went on to outscore the Bulls 13-4 by himself in the extra period, finishing 22-of-34 from the field, seven-of-15 from deep and 20-of-25 from the free throw line while adding 11 assists and eight rebounds.

Mitchell blew his own career-highs out of the water, having never previously scored more than 46 points in a regular season game, although he had games of 57 and 51 in the Utah Jazz's 2020 playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.

He scored or assisted on 99 of the Cavaliers' 145 points – the second most all-time, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance in 1962 where he contributed to 104 points.

Mitchell joins Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, Elgin Baylor, David Robinson, David Thompson and Devin Booker as the only players to reach the 70-point figure.

It overshadowed a terrific performance from Chicago's DeMar DeRozan, who scored a team-high 44 points on 16-of-32 shooting with four assists and four steals.

LeBron carries the Lakers in vintage display

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James willed his side to a 121-115 road win against the Charlotte Hornets with his second consecutive 40-point game.

After putting up a season-high 47 points his last time out against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, James almost matched it against Charlotte, scoring a game-high 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting with 11 rebounds and six assists.

He was the only Lakers player to score more than 18 points, as Thomas Bryant played strong supporting role with 18 points (nine-of-17 shooting) and 15 rebounds.

The Lakers have now won three of their past four to improve to 16-21 – four games behind the Sacramento Kings (19-16) in the Western Conference's sixth seed.

Nets make it 12 in a row

The Brooklyn Nets own this season's longest winning streak after rattling off their 12th in a row with a 139-103 drubbing of the San Antonio Spurs.

Brooklyn's two offensive centrepieces were both at the top of their game. Kevin Durant scored 25 points on wildly efficient 10-of-14 shooting with 11 assists, while Kyrie Irving scored his game-high 27 points on 11-of-14 shooting.

The highlight of the game came when Irving crashed the offensive rebounds on a Yuta Watanabe miss, rising up for a surprising put-back dunk that sent the Barclays Center crowd into raptures.

Brooklyn are now 25-12 after beginning the season 1-5, and trail the Boston Celtics (26-11) by one game in the race for the league's best record.

LeBron James thought he could become "one of the greatest players" in NBA history as a teenager after the Los Angeles Lakers man enjoyed a birthday game to remember.

The superstar forward celebrated his 38th birthday in style with a mammoth 47-point performance to steer his side to a 130-121 comeback win against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

In his 20th season now, James continues to build upon a legacy that already includes four championships, four MVP awards, and two Olympic gold medals, among other accolades.

Reflecting on his time in the NBA, he put himself into the shoes of his younger self and spoke of the ambition he had two decades ago to prove he could thrive in the sport.

"I feel better than [I felt at] 18," James said. "I didn't know what I could become at 18.

"But I just knew if I continued to put in the work, I continued to be true to the game, then I could be one of the greatest players to ever play this game.

"I just always believed that. There are times when I'm on the floor where I do feel like a kid again. That's for sure."

James' dominant performance, which also included 10 rebounds and nine assists at State Farm Arena, continued to showcase his age-defying skills on the court.

He is the third-oldest active player in the NBA right now, behind Udonis Haslem and Andre Iguodala, and he sees no reason why he cannot play on further.

"[I have got to] make sure my mind stays fresh, and my body, more importantly," he added. "As long as I keep my mind fresh, my body will follow."

LeBron James celebrated his 38th birthday with 47 points in a near triple-double as the Los Angeles Lakers downed the Atlanta Hawks 130-121 on Friday.

James scored 47 points on 18-of-27 shooting from the field with 10 rebounds and nine assists, showing the four-time NBA MVP is evergreen.

The 18-time All-Star scored 16 points in both the second and fourth quarters on his way to a season-high points haul.

The Lakers rallied back from a 15-point deficit before getting the edge in a tight fourth quarter, with James' three-pointer giving them a 103-101 lead which they never surrendered.

James iced the game with a pair of free-throws amid chants of "MVP! MVP!" from the State Farm Arena crowd, who appeared to be willing to switch allegiance for the star on his birthday.

Thomas Bryant scored 19 points with a  season-high 17 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook added 14 points and 11 assists off the bench.

Trae Young returned from a calf contusion for the Hawks to top score with 29 points and eight assists, while Dejounte Murray contributed 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists.

The result improves the Lakers to a 15-21 record, having lost nine of their past 13 games entering the game. The Hawks fell to 17-19 having lost their past three.

Giannis drops another 40-point game

Giannis Antetokounmpo powered an almighty third-quarter comeback from the Milwaukee Bucks, who won 123-114 over the Minnesota Timberwolves, dropping 40 points for the fourth time in six games.

The Bucks trailed 61-50 at half-time, but won the third 39-22 led by Antetokounmpo, who finished the game with 43 points on 14-of-23 shooting with 20 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

Milwaukee had good contributions off the bench from Bobby Portis with 22 points and 14 rebounds and Joe Ingles with 14 points and 10 assists. Anthony Edwards top scored for the Wolves with 30 points and 10 rebounds.

McCollum hits franchise-record 11 threes

C.J. McCollum scored a franchise-record 11 three-pointers on his way to 42 points as the New Orleans Pelicans downed the Philadelphia 76ers 127-116.

McCollum shot 11-of-16 from beyond the arc in a dazzling display, well supported by Zion Williamson with 36 points on 13-of-19 shooting with five rebounds.

Joel Embiid was strong for the 76ers with 37 points on 14-of-22 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists, while James Harden added 20 points including four triples and 10 assists.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.