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LeBron James joins Michael Jordan with another 40-point showing

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LeBron James joins Michael Jordan with another 40-point showing


NEW YORK — Few players have played basketball as long as LeBron James has, and the 39-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star continues to make a case that none have done it better at his age.

James scored 40 points in L.A.’s 116-104 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, joining Michael Jordan as the only players in NBA history with multiple games of 40 points or more after the age of 39. James now has done it twice; Jordan, who played until he was 40, did it three times.

The 21-year veteran went 13-for-17 from the floor and tied a career high in 3s made, going 9-for-10 from deep.

“I don’t ever have to lean on [3-pointers] because I can do so much — I can score on any level on the floor basically once I cross half court,” James said of his improved marksmanship in the latter stages of his career. “But being able to have a growth mindset and be able to work on things that the league is changing to, the league is a heavy 3-point shooting league.

“I’m not one of those guys that wants to go out there and shoot 12, 14 or 15 3s per game. But I want to be respected, and teams have to play me from the outside. That’s still kind of one thing teams [think] … ‘If we have to give up something, we’d much rather him shoot the ball from the outside.'”

Brooklyn didn’t necessarily give James open looks. The Lakers star simply got hot, making nearly everything he threw up from beyond the arc. And he saved his best for last, scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter on 5-for-6 shooting (4-for-4 from 3) to close the game after the Nets had cut L.A.’s once-26-point lead down to just eight with 11:42 remaining.

“It’s incredible,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “I told him in the huddle before his last little stretch and we ultimately subbed him out [that I was] just extremely thankful that he packed the cape on the road trip. Needed all nine of those 3s.”

The win lifted L.A. to 3-1 on its six-game road trip, which concludes Tuesday and Wednesday with a back-to-back against the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards. The Lakers are No. 9 in the Western Conference with seven games remaining in the regular season — 1½ games behind the No. 7 Phoenix Suns.

The Easter shooting display lifted James’ 3-point percentage to 41.6% on the season, the best of his career.

“The ones that he was shooting wasn’t hitting the rim,” Anthony Davis said. “It’s always great to watch. I mean, most points in NBA history, you know? And he’s just continuing to add to it. But the way he shot it tonight, masterful.”

James shot just 32.1% from 3 last season. He said the injury he sustained that February — tearing a tendon in his right foot — prevented him with working on his shooting rhythm as much in practices and the time between games.

“My foot has felt a lot better,” James said. “I didn’t have much time to really rep a lot last year because I had to make sure I could be on the floor running around or [not] putting much pounding of my foot on the floor. I’ve had a lot of opportunity to get on the floor. You probably see me before every game out on the floor, working on my game, working on my craft. So that’s helped out a lot, too. And just trying to stay consistent with my shot, do the same shot every time. And just work. Just work, work, work, work.”

When James subbed out late in the fourth quarter, the win all but decided, he received a standing ovation from the road crowd and he pantomimed placing a crown on his head in recognition of their appreciation.

With James still in some ways playing as well as he ever has, it naturally begged the question: How much longer does he plan to play?

“Not very long,” James said. “Not very long. I’m on the other side, obviously, of the hill. So I’m not going to play another 21 years, that’s for damn sure. But not very long. I don’t know what or when that door will close as far as when I retire, but I don’t have much time left.”



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