LeBron James has previously talked up the prospect of bringing an NBA franchise to Las Vegas when he retires, and he reiterated that desire after Saturday's in-season tournament final in Sin City.

James had 24 points in support of team-mate Anthony Davis, who finished with a season-high 41 as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers 123-109 in the Vegas showpiece to become the first winners of the tournament.

The four-time NBA MVP is into his 21st season in the league and has previously opened up on his desire to own a franchise when he calls time on his glittering career. 

James – who already owns stakes in Premier League outfit Liverpool and MLB team Boston Red Sox – said last year that he would "love" to take a franchise to Las Vegas. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver joked about those hopes as he presented James with the tournament's MVP trophy after Saturday's game, prompting laughter from James as he said: "This doesn't come with a franchise".

However, the 38-year-old is deadly serious about his ownership ambitions, saying: "My enthusiasm about being here post-career and bringing a team here has not changed. 

"The fans are amazing here. They have everything already, a WNBA team, they have a baseball team [the relocating Oakland Athletics] coming in soon, an NFL team, hockey team, Formula One was just here. 

"This is a place that loves great attractions, and I think the NBA will be another great addition to this city."

Anthony Davis was the star of the show as the Los Angeles Lakers won the first NBA in-season tournament final on Saturday, but he put their success down to his partnership with LeBron James.

Davis recorded season highs of 41 points and 20 rebounds as the Lakers overcame the Indiana Pacers in Las Vegas to be crowned champions of the inaugural tournament, while James backed him up with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

That represented something of a role reversal from their semifinal success against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, when James scored 30 points in under three quarters on the court.

Davis is now into his fifth year playing with James – who received the tournament's first MVP prize after Saturday's win – and he says the pair enjoy an almost telepathic connection.

"We've been doing it together for a long time, five years now, and we just figure it out," Davis said of his combinations with James. 

"We know each other's tendencies, what we like to do. Obviously in crunch time, we get to our infamous pick-and-roll and it's tough to stop.

"We feed off one another. Thursday, LeBron had it going. Tonight, it was me, and he still did his thing."

Saturday's game was the only one in the in-season tournament which didn't count towards the NBA's regular-season standings, but the Lakers are going well on that front too, sitting at 14-9 after winning 12 of their last 16 games.

Davis is determined to ensure the in-season tournament is not the only thing they win this season, saying: "I just try to do everything I can to win a basketball game. My team-mates put me in a great position to be successful. 

"Obviously, this is special for us, just winning the inaugural in-season tournament. But we want to also win the same thing in June.

"It's a step in the right direction, obviously, but even though it's a big performance, it's another game and we've got to continue to get going, starting on Tuesday."

The Lakers face a three-game road stretch next week as they return to regular-season action, taking on the Dallas Mavericks before back-to-back games against the out-of-form San Antonio Spurs.

LeBron James made more NBA history as the Los Angeles Lakers became the first winners of the in-season tournament on Saturday, before declaring: "Nobody can ever top that".

The Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers 123-109 in Las Vegas to become the first team to lift the trophy, with James named the first-ever tournament MVP.

James was upstaged in the final by team-mate Anthony Davis, who recorded season highs of 41 points and 20 rebounds, though the four-time NBA MVP also played his part with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

As he continues to push the limits in his 21st season in the league, James took particular pleasure in helping the Lakers become the tournament's first winners, something which cannot be replicated.

"I don't think it's even about the MVP, it's about us coming together to win this thing," James told ESPN during the trophy presentation. 

"This is the [first] in-season tournament. Records will be broken, but one thing that will never be broken is to be the first to do something. 

"We're the first champions of the in-season tournament, and nobody can ever top that, and it's great to do it with a historic franchise and just a great cast of funny, engaged, competitive men."

Despite his own remarkable longevity, James hyped Davis up as the "face of the franchise" in preseason, and he ran with that tag on Saturday as the Pacers were unable to live with his monster performance.

The James-Davis partnership is now into its fifth season, and James believes the duo push each other to reach greater heights, saying: "I know who I am, he knows who he is.

"So, there's no friction. We're not trying to compete with one another on the court or on a lifestyle basis. He knows who he is, I know who I am.

"The only thing we're trying to do is hold each other accountable when we get to work and try to be the best we can be for each other, and when one is not going well, try to pick each other up. 

"There's no jealousy. There's not a jealous bone in our bodies. We're never jealous of one another. Ever."

LeBron James was Tyrese Hailburton's favourite player growing up, and Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham knows his team must keep the Indiana Pacers star under lock and key.

The Lakers face the Pacers in the final of the inaugural in-season tournament in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Indiana overcame the Milwaukee Bucks to progress to the showpiece game, with 23-year-old point guard Hailburton finishing with 27 points and 15 assists.

Hailburton has impressed all season, averaging 26.9 points per game, and now gets a chance to face off against one of his childhood heroes in the form of Lakers star James, who was in fine form against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday.

"Like any kid born in 2000, LeBron was my favourite player growing up," Haliburton said. "And it's hard for him not to be for a lot of us.

"Growing up, I was a Cavs fan, then a Heat fan, then a Cavs fan again, then a Lakers fan before I got drafted. It's just how it went.

"To be able to compete against him in a championship is kind of like a storybook [ending] a little bit, and it's going to be a lot of fun.

"But that's the great part about being in the NBA, getting to compete against your idols on a nightly basis. I really look forward to that."

James might be Hailburton's idol, but Lakers coach Ham knows his team must find a way to keep the Pacers' talisman down.

"He's sneaky athletic. He has length to him, and his vision is incredible," Ham said. 

"I mean, the things he's able to do with the basketball, the way he sets up his teammates, looks off defenders, the way he pushes the pace in transition, he's constantly in attack mode.

"I think they've got a jewel, man."

Hailburton made his first All-Star appearance last season, though the Pacers have missed out on the playoffs in the last four campaigns.

"LeBron James is in his prime still," Pacers coach Ricky Carlisle noted.

"I'm watching the guy last night, and it's phenomenal. He's the only player in NBA history who has been the youngest player in the league and the oldest player in the league, both. That speaks to obviously an amazing run of longevity and, in his case, greatness.

"He's the all-time leading scorer, and if there's a Mount Rushmore, he's one of the guys on the NBA Mount Rushmore.

"That's what we're up against tomorrow. We're up against him and Anthony Davis and a lot of other very good players that are on a real uptick right now competitively.

"We've got our hands full. But if you're the Indiana Pacers and you're in the process of making the climb and you want great experience, this is the kind of challenge that you've got to love."

Ham added: "We've just got to be ready for a little bit of everything, but we can't get so caught up in trying to stop and prevent them from doing what they like to do. 

"We will, but we also can't forget to enforce our will upon the game, too. They have to guard us, too."

LeBron James quipped he was not too old to put his body on the line for the $500,000 per player cash prize that goes to the NBA's in-season tournament winners.

James' comment came after he played a starring role in the Los Angeles Lakers' 133-89 demolition of the New Orleans Pelicans in Thursday's semi-final.

Just over three weeks away from his 39th birthday, James finished with 30 points, eight assists and five rebounds at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

He also got in the way of a Zion Williamson charge in the first quarter. Asked if he was too old to be risking a serious injury, James smiled: "Listen man, not for that 500, I ain't."

Each player on the winning side of the inaugural final, in which the Lakers will take on the Indiana Pacers, will receive a $500,000 bonus.

James was weighing up retirement after last season, but is thrilled to still be on the court.

"If you decide to retire, or whatever the case may be, you're not a part of it anymore, so it wouldn't be me leaving it on the table because I would have never had the table set," James told ESPN.

"But I'm happy that I'm here; this is a pretty cool moment, and let's see if we can capitalise on it. It's been good. It's been dope.

"We've got to finish our breakfast on Saturday. That's the most important thing."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham, meanwhile, believes the NBA's in-season tournament has injected fresh life into the early stages of the season.

"This time of the year you tend to, you don't want to admit it, but teams tend to sleepwalk through some of these games," Ham said.

"So for the league to infuse this tournament at this point and time of the year, I thought it was brilliant.

"Now being here in Vegas, it's definitely a really thick electricity that's happening that's reverberating all the way through the arena, through the teams. Everybody is excited to try to give it their best shot.

"We are just trying to build a rhythm and be the best team we can be and put our best foot forward on a daily basis. The tournament just happens to align with what we got going on in general."

It was another tough game for Pelicans talisman Williamson, who finished with only 13 points.

"I got to be better," Williamson said. "I got to be more aggressive in finding my shot. I got to do more things to get my team going. I think I was too laid back tonight."

LeBron James needed less than three quarters to score 30 points and the Los Angeles Lakers booked a spot in Saturday’s Inaugural In-Season Tournament final with a 133-89 rout of the New Orleans Pelicans in Las Vegas.

Austin Reaves had 17 points and Anthony Davis added 16 with 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who will face the surprising Indiana Pacers for the NBA Cup.

Trey Murphy led New Orleans with 14 points and Zion Williamson had 13 with just two rebounds.

The Pelicans led 30-29 after the first quarter, but James opened the second by scoring the Lakers’ first 11 points, including three 3-pointers in a row.

James had 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting by halftime with Los Angeles up 67-54. He went to the bench midway through the third quarter and should be plenty rested for the final.

The Lakers have won three straight games and 11 of their past 15.

Haliburton leads Pacers over Bucks in In-Season Tournament semifinals

Tyrese Haliburton had 27 points and 15 assists, Myles Turner added 26 and the Indiana Pacers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 128-119 to advance to Saturday’s inaugural In-Season Tournament final.

Haliburton hit a dagger 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining to put the Pacers up 122-114 and celebrated by mimicking Damian Lillard’s “Dame time” celebration.

The Pacers, who entered the game third in the NBA in 3-point shooting, shot just 7 of 33 from deep (21.2%) but scored 72 points in the paint.

Turner scored 10 of his 26 points in the first quarter, including a monstrous dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Isaiah Jackson, Andrew Nembhard and T.J. McConnell combined to shoot 13 of 19 from the field while Indiana’s bench outscored Milwaukee’s 43-13.

Antetokounmpo had 37 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bucks, while Lillard scored 24 and Khris Middleton added 20.

 

Kevin Durant did not look to use a contentious timeout call as an excuse after the Phoenix Suns slipped to a 106-103 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Suns were left furious after the referee elected to call a timeout following LeBron James' call, when the ball appeared to be loose, late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday's in-season tournament quarter-final.

With 15 seconds remaining, Davin Booker dispossessed Austin Reaves, with James swiftly requesting a timeout, which was granted.

Suns coach Frank Vogel fumed: "It's a loose ball, and you can't call a timeout on a loose ball.

"The whistle blows. I don't know why. Everything in the league is reviewable. I don't know why that can't be reviewable.

"We've got the trap, we've got the turnover, [and the] damn whistle blows. It's just frustrating."

Durant, though, did not share his coach's anger.

"That's not the ballgame," said Durant, who led the Suns with 31 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

"That's one play. It's a 48-minute game. I don't like to complain about calls.

"Sometimes the ref isn't going to get it right all the time. Sometimes it's on us to play through all that stuff and not worry about putting the game in the ref's hands."

Reaves added: "There was no call, and LeBron made a high-IQ play he's made a million times.

Vogel did, however, echo Durant's sentiment that the Suns did not do enough to win the tie and progress to Las Vegas.

"We didn't do enough early in the game," Vogel said. "The turnovers and on the glass, if we do a better job, we're not talking about a close game like that."

The Lakers will now face the New Orleans Pelicans for a place in the final of the inaugural in-season tournament, with the winner taking home the NBA Cup.

"You've got some of the most alpha male competitors in the world, and if you give us an opportunity to play for something meaningful or an incentive, then you get what you're getting," said James, who finished with 31 points and 11 assists.

"The in-season tournament is what it is, and we have an opportunity to play on a big stage, be on national television, represent our families, our communities, where we come from."

The Los Angeles Lakers secured a spot in the In-Season Tournament semifinals on Tuesday with a 106-103 win over the Phoenix Suns, as LeBron James scored 15 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter.

James had 15 of the Lakers’ first 19 points in the final quarter and got the assists on his teammates’ other two baskets as Los Angeles pulled ahead.

Anthony Davis tallied 27 points and 15 rebounds and Austin Reaves added 20 points, including a key 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to extend the Lakers’ lead to 105-101.

Los Angeles advances to face New Orleans on Thursday in Las Vegas.

Kevin Durant scored 31 points for the Suns but came up short on a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Bucks handle Knicks to reach semifinals

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 35 points and 10 assists to help the Milwaukee Bucks book a spot in the semifinals of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament with a 146-122 victory over the New York Knicks.

Damian Lillard added 28 points and Malik Beasley had 18 for the Bucks, who improved to 5-0 in tournament play with their ninth consecutive home win.

They set a season high in scoring, shooting 60.5 percent (23 of 38) from 3-point range and 60.4 percent overall to set up a matchup with Indiana in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Julius Randle scored a season-high 41 points on 14-of-19 shooting, and Jalen Brunson had 24 points, but the Knicks had a three-game win streak stopped.

LeBron James will skip a Los Angeles Lakers game if it falls on the same day that his son Bronny makes his USC debut.

Bronny, 19, suffered a cardiac arrest during a team workout in July and underwent successful surgery to repair what the James family referred to as a likely congenital heart defect.

However, the teenager has now been cleared to make a return to basketball, meaning he is soon set to make his USC bow.

And a Lakers game will not stop James being there to see his son's big moment.

"Whenever he's cleared and ready to have his first game, I already told my teammates that if they play on the same day we're playing, I'm going to have to catch them the next game," James said after the Lakers lost 133-110 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"Family over everything. I've definitely got to see Bronny's first game whenever he's cleared and ready to go.

"Just a proud moment. Big-time excitement from our family for Bronny. And for USC, as well.

"It's something that he's been working towards for the last 12 weeks. And for him to get the clearance to do what he loves to do and go back to being with his teammates and put on a uniform and things of that nature, it's pretty gratifying for sure."

While Lakers coach Darvin Ham finds it difficult to assess his team's season so far, he is nevertheless thrilled to see Bronny back on the court.

"It's amazing, man," Ham said. "I'm so happy for him and their family."

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers took criticism of their loss to the Philadelphia 76ers "to heart" as they bounced back with a comfortable 133-107 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

The Lakers suffered a heavy 138-94 defeat to the 76ers on Monday, with the 44-point losing margin the largest in James' long career, one that stretches back to 2003.

But the Lakers hit back with an easy win over an overwhelmed Pistons team, and James felt he and his team-mates utilised the scathing assessments of the 76ers defeat to their advantage as they got back to winning ways in emphatic fashion.

"I think we responded well and we played a lot better," James said after the win. "We gave ourselves a better chance defensively.

"We got out to a lot of their shooters that we thought could make shots from the perimeter, but we also controlled the paint. And, you know, that was very key.

"We just took constructive criticism, and we took it to heart and then we applied it to the game.

"It [the criticism] got me a little bit, [but] the next day when we left to come here, it was time to focus on the Pistons."

The Orlando Magic moved within one of the franchise record with their eighth straight win, as Franz Wagner scored 31 points in a 139-120 victory Wednesday over the reeling Washington Wizards.

Cole Anthony added 25 points and Jalen Suggs had 22 for the Magic, who are one win shy of the longest streak in team history set in 1994 and matched twice this century.

Orlando set season highs in 3-pointers (17) and shooting percentage (60.7) while its reserves outscored Washington’s 65-45.

Anthony had his sixth straight game of at least 15 points, all off the bench. In those six games, he has averaged 20.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists.

Kyle Kuzma scored 24 points and Deni Avdija had 22 as the Wizards dropped to 1-10 in their last 11 games.

Lakers send Pistons to franchise-record 15th straight loss

D’Angelo Russell poured in a season-high 35 points and Anthony Davis had 28 with 16 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back for a 133-107 rout of the Detroit Pistons, their franchise-record 15th consecutive loss.

LeBron James added 25 points and the Lakers, coming off a 138-94 loss to Philadelphia in the most lopsided loss of his career, started fast with a 38-24 lead after one quarter and were never seriously threatened.

Detroit broke the franchise record after sharing it with three teams that had 14-game skids during the 2021-22, 1993-94 and 1979–80 seasons.

Raptors end Suns’ winning streak

Scottie Barnes scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and Pascal Siakam added 22 in the Toronto Raptors’ 112-105 victory over the Phoenix Suns, who had a seven-game winning streak stopped.

Jakob Poetl had 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting and Precious Achiuwa contributed 14 and 10 rebounds as the Raptors avoided a third straight loss.

Kevin Durant scored 30 points after missing two games with a sore foot, but Devin Booker managed only eight points on 2 of 12 from the field, including 0 for 4 on 3-pointers.

Booker, who missed a 3 that would have tied it with 50 seconds remaining, hobbled to the bench early in the second half after stepping on Dennis Schröder’s foot but was able to return.

 

No player in NBA history has spent more minutes on the court than LeBron James, but the latest record means nothing to the Los Angeles Lakers star.

That is because it came in what was James' heaviest career defeat – a 138-94 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.

In his 21-year NBA career, James' previous worst loss came by 42 points in a 136-94 reverse to the Indiana Pacers in February 2019.

As Joel Embiid racked up 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the Sixers' rout, James accumulated another 30 minutes on the court.

That took his career total, across both regular season and postseason games, to 66,319 minutes in his career, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 66,297 minutes.

But the record was of little solace to the 38-year-old, who told reporters: "That doesn't mean much to me."

Asked about what the Lakers need to do to ensure heavy defeats do not become a common occurrence, James said: "What needs to change in order for that not to happen again? Um, a lot.

"I don't know how a team [should respond]. I can only speak for myself, and I don't like it."

James' teammate Anthony Davis said: "Feel like we just weren't together. A lot of quick shots, one-pass shots, no-pass shots.

"They started making a lot of shots. And when their lead kind of opened up a little bit – 15, 20, 25 – I think we all tried to be the hero to make the team come back instead of just sticking with it.

"We've got to look at it, embrace it, own it. Guys don't take it personally for whatever's said in the film, and then move on from it."

It was a bad day for both Los Angeles teams, with the Clippers also losing. 

They went down 104-113 to a Denver Nuggets team that was shorn of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon.

Former Laker Russell Westbrook became embroiled in a debate with a fan.

"I mean, it's unfortunate," Westbrook said.

"Fans think they can say whatever they want. I'm not going to say [what was said] now because it's not appropriate, but I'm just protecting myself.

"It's just unfortunate fans think they can get away with saying anything and, personally, I won't allow it. I've [taken] a lot of people saying anything and getting away with it, but I won't stand for it."

Joel Embiid racked up 30 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as the Philadelphia 76ers rolled to a 138-94 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, giving LeBron James the most lopsided loss of his 21-year NBA career.

Tyrese Maxey complemented Embiid's sixth career triple-double with 31 points and eight assists, and the 76ers dominated from the 3-point line to also record their largest margin of victory in 290 all-time regular-season meetings with the Lakers.

James' previous worst loss came by 42 points, a 136-94 defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Feb. 5, 2019, in his first season with the Lakers. The NBA's all-time leading scorer finished with 18 points and five assists but failed to register a rebound.

Philadelphia finished 22 of 46 from 3-point range compared to 7 of 28 for Los Angeles, which trailed by double digits since late in the first quarter and were outscored by a whopping 40-14 margin in the fourth despite the 76ers resting Embiid and fellow starters Tobias Harris and De'Anthony Melton the entire period.

Anthony Davis ended with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who have dropped two of three since a 6-1 stretch from Nov. 10-21.

Nuggets handle Clippers despite Jokic resting

DeAndre Jordan filled in well for a resting Nikola Jokić as the Denver Nuggets rallied for a 113-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Jordan posted 21 points, 13 rebounds and five assists starting in place of Jokic, who was held out with Denver playing for the second consecutive night. Reggie Jackson had 13 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Nuggets back from an 11-point deficit to start the period.

Jackson, who spent parts of four seasons with the Clippers before being traded away in February, added 13 assists. Jordan played his first 10 NBA seasons with Los Angeles from 2008-18.

The Nuggets trailed 88-77 after three quarters before outscoring the Clippers by a 36-16 margin in the fourth. They went ahead for good when Jackson capped a 15-2 run to start the period with a short floater that gave Denver a 92-90 lead with under 7 1/2 minutes left.

Los Angeles, which had won four of five following a 3-7 start, went just 4 of 17 from the field in the fourth quarter and got just six points on 2-of-13 shooting from star Paul George.

Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 31 points and eight rebounds, while Ivica Zubac recorded 23 points and 14 boards. 

Wizards halt nine-game losing streak, extend Pistons' skid to 14

Kyle Kuzma compiled 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Washington Wizards to a 126-107 victory over the Detroit Pistons in a matchup of the NBA's two worst teams.

Washington, which entered the game with an identical 2-14 record to Detroit, halted a nine-game losing streak. The Pistons have now lost 14 consecutive games, tied for the longest skid in franchise history within a single season.

The Wizards led by just one early in the third quarter before Kuzma took over, as the veteran forward scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting for the period to help extend Washington's advantage to 94-83 entering the fourth.

Washington maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way while shooting 50.6 per cent from the field for the game. Deni Avdija and Danilo Gallinari each contributed 16 points to the victory.

Cade Cunningham led Detroit with 26 points and seven assists, while Jalen Duren finished with 12 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks.

 

 

LeBron James says he "will never forget" his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers after his 22 points helped the Los Angeles Lakers to defeat his former team on Saturday.

James has not always enjoyed an easy relationship with Cavaliers fans, acrimoniously leaving in 2010 after Cleveland drafted him back in 2003, controversially leaving for the Miami Heat.

Having won two NBA championship with the Heat, James returned to Cleveland in 2014 and won over the Cavaliers fans by helping them to a first ever title before departing again in 2018.

James went on to win a fourth NBA Championship with the Lakers, and he scored 22 points as his team went into Cleveland and took a 121-115 victory on Saturday.

The four-time MVP received a warm reception from the home crowd, and after the game he reflected on his "special" time with the Cavaliers, who play close to James' hometown of Akron, Ohio.

"It's just special," James said. "It's very special to be a kid from Akron.

"I grew up 30 miles south of here and to be able to be drafted here and spend my first seven years here and do some special things that the franchise had never seen.

"When I was drafted, I said I wanted to light this place up like Vegas. So I feel like I did a decent job of doing that when I was here for my 11 years.

"Stepping back on this floor is always a pretty cool feeling, looking up there and pretty much being a part of all of the banners in this arena. The one that sits in the middle was that [20]16 championship, so that's pretty cool.

"[I] spent 11 years here and being able to come back after my Miami stint and win a championship here for this franchise, for this city, I think it was a 52-year [title] drought or something like that in the city of Cleveland for any sports team, I think that was just something that I will never forget no matter how old I get. I'll always remember that moment."

LeBron James knows it is him "vs Father Time" as he looks to prolong his illustrious career at the highest level.

James had 37 points as the Los Angeles Lakers edged out the Houston Rockets 105-104 on Sunday.

The veteran sunk the winning 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and move the Lakers to 8-6 for the season.

While James knows he is entering the last stretch of his incredible career, the 38-year-old wanted to offer up a reminder of his quality.

"Sometimes you need to remind folks," James said after the game.

"Just trying to push the limit. See how far I can take this thing. I don't know. I mean, it's me vs Father Time."

James, though, stressed he is feeling sharper than in recent seasons, saying he is over a long-standing foot injury.

"I have been able to be on the court a lot more during off days this year because of past injuries the last couple years with my foot or whatever the case may be," James told ESPN.

"So to be able to hone in on everything that I need to do instead of having to get off my foot, unless we're playing games has allowed me to stay in rhythm.

"I got my bounce back, my spring back, my quick twitch back and things of that nature."

Lakers coach Darvin Ham added of James: "He was outstanding. The LeBron we've all come to know and love over these 21 years."

James is averaging 26.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game this season.

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