LOS ANGELES – After becoming the oldest player in league history to record a 30-point triple-double in the Los Angeles Lakers 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday, LeBron James has said the key to her stunning performance was plenty of sleep.
After a three-day whirlwind in which James played a back-to-back road in Memphis and Oklahoma City, then flew to Phoenix on Saturday to see his son Bronny lead his high school team to a victory, James made sure to reload with 12 hours of sleep before the Magic game.
“I slept last night from 12 [a.m.] at 8 [a.m.], I got up, I had lunch and I went back to sleep from 8:30 a.m. [a.m.] at 12:30 [p.m.]James said after boosting the Lakers with 30 points on 12-on-20 shots, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks in 37 minutes against Orlando.
At 36 years and 346 days old, James supplanted Lakers great Kobe Bryant as the oldest player to lose a 30-point triple-double, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Bryant was 36 years and 99 days old when he had 31 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists in a win over the Toronto Raptors in November 2014 in his penultimate season in the NBA.
The Lakers have won three of their last four games to move up to 15-13, with James surpassing 30 points in all of those wins.
James was asked how long lasting his recent outburst could be.
“Who me? How can I continue as I play? I’ve been doing it for 19 years,” he said. “Just do what I did. I feel like I’m getting better and better day by day. I’m getting healthier and healthier.”
James, who missed 10 of the Lakers’ first 16 games with ankle and abdomen injuries, has improved his game over the season. In James’ first eight games, he averaged 22.8 points on 49% shots with 5.0 rebounds and 6.1 assists. Over his last eight, including the Orlando victory, he’s averaged 29.8 points on 52 percent shots, 7.3 rebounds and 8.0 assists.
After a win over the Boston Celtics last weekend, James dismissed any discussion that his workload would be too much to handle at this point in his career. His average of 36.8 minutes per game is the highest he has played since joining the Lakers in 2018 and a significant increase from his 33.4 minutes per game last season.
“It’s just my state of mind. Don’t get involved in the number of minutes I’ve played, the number of days off,” James said. âI don’t limit myself to that. I think you are thinking negative thoughts or negative energy, it occurs to you. So, I am as young as I have ever been.â
James was in his prime in the third quarter on Sunday, scoring 14 points on a 5v7 shot and adding three assists and two blocked shots, flying all over the field and sending the crowd into a frenzy. James’ play rubbed off on his teammates as the Lakers dominated the third quarter, edging Orlando 36-10 and now the Magic at 2 for 23 (8.7%). It was the best defensive quarterback for a Lakers team since Dec. 14, 1999, when the LA Clippers shot 1 for 18 (5.6%) in the second quarter.
âWhen he’s just aggressive, he’s aggressive making the right plays and reads, our team is different,â Russell Westbrook said of James. “Tonight was another night where he imposed his will.”
Talen Horton-Tucker, who turned 21 last month, was asked what it’s like to play alongside someone almost 16 years his senior.
“It gives me energy because you see him doing it at 36,” said Horton-Tucker, who added two of his six interceptions in that dominant third quarterback. “It gives me no excuse to do the same in return.”
James said being with the team at Bronny’s Sierra Canyon High School also made him feel younger, as well as his rest.
âSleep,â James said when asked for the key to his energy. “Sleep and inspiration from my son and his team.”
Lakers coach Frank Vogel has said he has adjusted the team’s schedule in recent seasons to allow his players to rest on game days.
âAs a group, over the past two years we’ve almost completely given up on morning shootings,â Vogel said. âPersonally, I’ve found that when we give them off in the morning, we usually have more juice.â
Vogel seemed determined to put in all the effort James left in his infallible Hall of Fame career, without fear of draining his star’s tank ahead of the playoffs.
âNothing gives the impression that his resources are limited with him,â Vogel said. âJust the way he plays is the way we have to be. It’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 adversary.
âThat’s what we’ve been the last couple of 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 level of the championship. Trying to develop these. Championship habits in regular season games. He sets the tone for that. “