Home @ Pechanga Arena San Diego San Diego, CA2020 January 21st at 7:00pm
As his 35th birthday approached, LeBron James made the same kinds of jokes about aging that anyone does when reaching a new life milestone. For a professional athlete it can be more pointed, as most NBA players finish their careers long before their mid-30s.
But James’ performance in his first week as a 35-year-old wrote a different narrative. He had a spring in his step that seemed to be fading during December. As it turned out, James didn’t need youth serum, he just needed a few nights at home.
Consequently, James earned his second player of the week nod of the season for the week of Dec. 30 (his birthday) through January 5. During that span, James averaged a triple double with 23 points, 11.7 rebounds, 12.7 assists and 1.3 steals per week. The Lakers won all three games they played against the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans and Detroit Pistons.
“However the game presents itself, whatever this team needs to do, whether they need me to be in the teens in scoring, or teens in assists, I can do that,” LeBron James said. “They need me to be high in the 20s or in the 30s in scoring, I can do that as well. Just trying to keep the defense, just trying to keep them guessing so they don’t quite know what I’m gonna do coming off pick-and-rolls or transition. The one thing I do know I’m gonna see is a lot of eyes.”
Other player-of-the-week nominees included Phoenix’s Devin Booker, Oklahoma City’s Chris Paul, Houston’s James Harden and Lakers star Anthony Davis. Davis has also won the award twice this season. His first award marked the first time since 2013 that a Lakers player was given the honor. Then it was Kobe Bryant, who also holds the record for most Western Conference player-of-the-week awards by a Laker in one season. He earned it five times each during the 2005-06 season and the 2002-03 season.
James has earned a weekly award 63 times, but 61 of them were in the Eastern Conference where he spent his career before arriving in Los Angeles last season.
Guard Avery Bradley is questionable for Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks, which means they are saying there is a 50% chance he plays.
Bradley sprained his right ankle against the Pistons on Sunday night and missed the second half of the game. He had X-rays on Sunday night that were negative for fractures.
The Lakers had a film session and did some shooting on Monday, but announced that they did not have a practice.
Bradley has missed 14 games this season, 13 of them with a hairline fracture on a nonweight-bearing bone in his right leg. After the stretch of 13 missed games, the Lakers eased him back into the lineup over five games. On his sixth game back, he returned to starting for the Lakers.
He earned a spot among the Lakers’ starters by virtue of his tough defense, and the Lakers’ defense as a whole suffered during Bradley’s absence because of injury.
In 2008, Dwight Howard was a fourth-year star for the Orlando Magic taking part in the NBA’s dunk contest. For one of his dunks, he donned a superman shirt and red cape and took off from just inside the free-throw line for a dunk that caused Magic Johnson, a judge, to pump his fists.
In the final round, Howard placed a basketball on a tiny hoop affixed to the backboard. He leaped into the air, took the ball off the tiny hoop and performed a windmill dunk while still in the air.
Howard beat out Gerald Green, winning the fan vote that decided the contest.
Could there be a reprisal?
Despite a report that Howard will participate, a source close to Howard says the big man is contemplating a return to the dunk contest but has not yet made a decision.
Either way, it’s not the only All-Star category in which Howard has garnered attention. While his teammates LeBron James and Anthony Davis were first and second among front-court players receiving fan votes for the All-Star game, Howard was 10th in the first returns with 69.785 votes.