MIAMI — Anthony Davis’ left knee injury coincided with an offensive burst from LeBron James, as his 33 points in Sunday night’s 113-107 loss to the Miami Heat marked the 17th straight game the star of Los Angeles Lakers scored 25 or more points. All without Davis.
With Davis potentially returning as early as Tuesday from MCL’s sprained left knee when LA takes on the Brooklyn Nets, James gave the impression that his offensive outing could continue at a prolific pace.
“I don’t need to score 30 a night, but I’m in one of the best offensive zones I’ve been in in my career,” the 19-year-old veteran said. “And I don’t plan on stopping. That’s exactly how I feel. I feel fantastic. I shoot the ball extremely well. I didn’t shoot the 3-ball well tonight, but all eight felt good Effective shot from the free throw line, effective shot from the court Very effective in the hoop.
“So I’m not coming into the game saying you have to score 30 or you have no chance of winning the game. I’m just playing the game. The scoring happened organically.”
James went 12 for 22 against the Heat but was 11 for 14 if his 3-point attempts are subtracted. He also went 8 for 11 from the free throw line.
He’s averaging 32.5 points over the past 17 games — second-most in the league in that streak behind only Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (33.9) — while shooting 53.4 percent from the field . LA went 7-10 in the stretch.
The scoring streak took James’ average to 29.0 points per game, second in the league behind Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant (29.3). It’s the fourth-highest scoring average of his career and the highest he’s had in more than a decade, as he put up 29.7 points per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009- 10.
James, who turned 37 last month, is also averaging his most minutes, 36.7, since his 2017-18 season with the Cavs when he played 36.9.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he would welcome Davis back to carry some of the burden alongside James.
“Anthony helps in every way, and that’s definitely one of them – to spread some of the load,” Vogel said before the Heat game. “But LeBron feels good with the load he’s carrying. We keep communicating with him, if it’s too much in his minutes and total minutes, and he feels in a good rhythm. Playing mostly every other day. So it’s in a good place, but Anthony’s return really helps with that.”
James bristled at any suggestion that the workload was too heavy, pointing out that he entered the league “saving the [Cavaliers] franchise” when he was 18, so he’s not fazed by what he has to bring to the Lakers this year.
James, who is 2,006 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record atop the all-time goalscoring list, also admitted he was aware of the approaching milestone.
“As I continued to climb the ranks, it’s natural, human to look at it and see where you are at and see if it’s even possible. See if you’re capable of it,” James said. “Obviously health plays the most important role, then keep giving it your all in the game. I never cheated in the game. I never wanted to feel satisfied.
“I wanted to keep improving and I mean, I’m, like you said, I’ll be under 2,000 points, when did you say? Soon? Well listen, we’ll see what happens. I’ve never chased a record in my life. I’ve never sat down and said, ‘OK, let me see if I can get this record, let me see if I can get this record. .'”