A furious fourth-quarter comeback attempt fell just short for the Los Angeles Lakers as they lost to the Miami Heat on the road. As the Lakers continue to struggle to put wins on the board — this time against the now East-leading Heat — LeBron James has continued his dominant play offensively.
James scored 33 points in the Sunday afternoon loss despite struggling in shooting the ball from long distance. The star forward, playing center for a majority of his minutes with Anthony Davis still sidelined by the knee injury he is nearing a return from, made 11 of his 14 attempts from inside the arc and cashed in eight of 11 free throws.
The performance continued a 17-game streak of scoring at least 25 points, spanning more than a month of the schedule. The Lakers have needed nearly all of those points to stay just breathing at the .500 or so level while missing their defensive anchor and struggling to find any consistency.
For his part, James shut the door on any theories that he went into games with the intention of carrying the team with high-scoring displays. Instead, when asked about his workload, James merely called it “one of the best zones offensively” that he has been in during his illustrious career and said that the scoring had come “organically.”
— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) January 24, 2022
Whether LeBron really does mean that answer or not, we may never know. But it’s clear that the Lakers have had to ask even more of him than usual in AD’s absence. Not only has James had to be the anchor of a flailing defense, but they have also needed his high level scoring especially to make up for Russell Westbrook’s inconsistency (though one could argue that Westbrook handling the ball has allowed James to be more efficient and fresh to carry the scoring load).
Davis’ return — once he is back in game shape — should hopefully give James a bit of a break so he can be more of a closer. But with the Lakers struggling to find any traction even in the most forgiving Western Conference in years, odds are they will still need LeBron to be Superman to survive.