LOS ANGELES – After becoming the oldest player in league history to score a 30-point triple-double in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday, LeBron James said the Key to her astonishing performance was an abundance of sleep.
After a three-day whirlwind in which James played a back-to-back road in Memphis and Oklahoma City and then flew to Phoenix on Saturday to watch his son Bronny lead his high school team to victory, James made sure to reload. energize with 12 hours of sleep before the Magic game.
“I slept last night from 12 [a.m.] to 8 [a.m.], I got up, had breakfast and went back to sleep from 8:30 [a.m.] until 12:30 [p.m.]”Said James after setting the pace for the Lakers with 30 points on 12 of 20 shots, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks in 37 minutes against Orlando.
At 36 years and 346 days old, James supplanted the Lakers great Kobe Bryant as the oldest player to drop a 30-point triple-double, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. Bryant was 36 years and 99 days old when he scored 31 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a victory over the Toronto Raptors in November 2014 during his penultimate NBA season.
The Lakers have won three of their last four games to improve to 15-13, with James topping 30 points in all of those wins.
James was asked how sustainable his recent explosion can be.
“Who me? How am I still playing? I’ve been doing it for 19 years,” he said. “Just do what I’ve been doing. I feel like I’m getting better every day. I’m getting healthier and healthier.”
James, who missed 10 of the Lakers’ first 16 games due to ankle and abdominal injuries, has improved his game throughout the season. In James’ first eight games, he averaged 22.8 points on 49% shooting with 5.0 rebounds and 6.1 assists. In his last eight, including Orlando’s victory, he has averaged 29.8 points on 52% shooting, 7.3 rebounds and 8.0 assists.
After a win over the Boston Celtics last weekend, James dismissed any comments about his workload as too much to handle at this stage in his career. His average of 36.8 minutes per game is the most he has played since joining the Lakers in 2018 and a significant increase from his 33.4 minutes per game last season.
“That’s just my way of thinking. Don’t get involved in how many minutes I played, how many days off,” James said. “I don’t limit myself to that. I think you have negative thoughts or negative energy, it just creeps into your mind. So, I’m as young as ever.”
James was at his best in the third quarter on Sunday, scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and adding three assists and two blocked shots, flying across the court and sending the crowd into a frenzy. James’ game rubbed off on his teammates as the Lakers dominated the third quarter, beating Orlando 36-10 and holding the Magic 2 of 23 shots (8.7%). It was the best defensive quarter for a Lakers team since December 14, 1999, when the LA Clippers scored 1 of 18 (5.6%) in the second quarter.
“When he’s just being aggressive, he’s aggressive making the right plays and reads, our team is different,” Russell Westbrook said of James. “Tonight was another night that he imposed his will.”
Talen Horton-Tucker, who turned 21 last month, was asked what it’s like to play alongside someone who is nearly 16 years older than him.
“It gives me energy because you see him doing it at 36,” said Horton-Tucker, who had two of his six steals in that dominating third quarter. “It gives me no excuse to do the same thing again.”
James said being around the Bronny’s Sierra Canyon High School team has also made him feel young again, along with his break.
“Sleep,” James said when asked about the key to his energy. “Dream and inspiration of my son and his team.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he has adjusted the team’s schedule in recent seasons to accommodate more time for his players to rest on game days.
“As a group, in the last two years, they’ve almost completely walked away from morning practice,” Vogel said. “Personally, I’ve found that when we give them the morning off, we usually have more juice.”
Vogel seemed determined to squeeze every last bit of effort that James has left him in his infallible Hall of Fame career, without fear of emptying his star tank before the playoffs.
“For him, nothing feels like his resources are limited,” Vogel said. “Just the way he plays, that’s how we have to be. That’s Lakers basketball. It doesn’t matter who our opponent is, what his record is, what the situation is. We want to play harder than our opponent.
“That’s what we’ve been the last two years. It hasn’t always been there for us this year. And I think our guys recognize that. They’re trying to play at that championship level. Trying to build those championship habits in league games. regular season. He’s setting a great tone for us in that regard. “