It’s really tough to describe what LeBron James did on his special day.
What he did, first off, was to lead the Lakers to victory over the Atlanta Hawks, 130-121.
But if you’re going to ask me how the Lakers won this game? I would just answer with… LeBron James.
I can’t even say it was an old-school performance because he has been doing this his entire career. Maybe the bounce isn’t as high anymore (let’s be real here; he just turned 38) but he’s still getting some dunks in like he’s a 28-year-old.
And what’s even more amazing was that he only scored two points in the first quarter. And after that, he just took over. 45 points after the first period. Woof.
Still, the Hawks led by as many as 15 points in the first half. Why? Well, look at what I said in the game preview:
“…And hopefully, they can take better care of the ball. We’ve seen them lose games purely because of carelessness.”
They had 15 turnovers after three quarters. But in the fourth, the Lakers only had one and that’s when they were making their move. Still, having 16 total turnovers for the game is not ideal.
But it just came down to LeBron James just willing his team to this win. This dude is in Year 20 in the NBA:
Still, I liked that the Lakers moved the ball for most of the game. They had 34 total dimes in the contest (11 by Russell Westbrook and 9 each by LeBron and ex-Hawk Dennis Schröder). And Thomas Bryant was a bundle of energy with 19 points and a season-best 17 boards. Sure, there were spurts of optional defense between both teams but the Lakers won out as the game got deeper.
We’ve documented that the Lakers aren’t a big team but they were just all over the boards against the Hawks, 55-41. Juan Toscano-Anderson and Troy Brown, Jr. have been big over the last few games with their hustle, defense, and size. Wenyen Gabriel was also a boon tonight, scoring 11 points. He and Westbrook (14-8-11) really have very good chemistry going.
The only other main negative here was Austin Reaves having his second straight bad game. He was 1 for 13 from the field (five points) and he looked to be pressing. Hopefully, he can snap out of it soon.
The Hawks got more overwhelmed as the game went on and it felt like LeBron James was just inevitable. The dunks, the three-pointers, the dimes, the boards, the fadeaways, the bank shots, etc. Not that he’s always been the guy but he really was THE guy tonight.
As for the other side, the Hawks were led by Trae Young with 29 points and 8 assists. Dejounte Murray nearly had a trip-dub with 20-7-9 while Onyeka Okongwu did a great job in place of the injured Clint Capela with 17 points, 8 boards, and three blocks. Bogdan Bogdanovic had 17 off the bench.
Lakers are now 15-21 as they try to climb out of this deep hole they made for themselves yet again. The halfway mark is almost there and while it’s a guarantee that they won’t be .500 after Game #41, they could, at least, attempt to be closer to that mark as we all gear up for the second half of the season.
In the meantime, Happy 38th Birthday, LeBron James. I still don’t understand you.
Oh, and Happy New Year. Make your resolutions count.