LOS ANGELES — At a time in life when all but the world’s greatest athletes are slowing down, LeBron James has picked up speed.

James turned 38 years old on Dec. 30, deep in his 20th season in the NBA. He celebrated by scoring 47 points on his birthday in Atlanta, and the second-leading scorer in league history has been on a vintage roll ever since.

James is averaging 37.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.6 assists for the Los Angeles Lakers in his seven games since turning 38. He has three 40-point performances in that stretch, including a season-high 48-point effort in a 140-132 victory over Houston on Monday night.

Older golfers take pride in shooting their age. James is nearly scoring his age against the best basketball players in the world – and even amid everything else James has done to redefine the parameters of greatness, his current surge is something special.

“He’s just been in an incredible rhythm, and it’s showing,” Lakers Coach Darvin Ham said.

James is closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA career scoring record while sometimes carrying the short-handed Lakers until Anthony Davis recovers from his latest major injury, and he’s doing it all despite constant reminders of the advancement of time.


With increasing regularity, James is playing against the sons of players he faced earlier in his career, including Rockets youngsters Jabari Smith Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. on Monday.

“Hey, you played against my dad your first NBA game ever,” Smith Jr. told James on the court in an exchange captured by NBA TV.

“It made me feel extremely old when Junior told me that,” James said with a grin. “I think he even said it, like, `You probably feel old.'”

Smith Sr. and Martin Sr. were in the crowd to watch their sons – and James’ son, 18-year-old Bronny, goes to the same Los Angeles-area high school at which Martin Jr. played. James has also played against one of Bronny’s former high school teammates, Memphis’ Ziaire Williams.

“It’s just a unique thing that I’ve been able to withstand the test of time for as long as I’ve been playing, to be able to compete now versus father-and-son combinations,” James said.

There are concessions to the advances of time, but they’re more about injury than age: James sat out two games since turning 38, both to rest a body with accumulated nicks including a sore left ankle.


One night before he lit up the Rockets, James scored his 38,000th career point in a 113-112 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday that left James uncharacteristically brusque and frustrated in his postgame interview. He went on Twitter on Monday to voice his disappointment with the officiating in the Lakers’ recent games, calling it “frustrating as hell man.”

James admitted he was “extremely tired” Monday, and he easily could have sat out against the lowly Rockets on the back end of back-to-back games. Instead, he decided he couldn’t take a night off with the Lakers (20-24) on a three-game losing streak and sitting 13th in the 15-team Western Conference without Davis and injured rotation players Lonnie Walker and Austin Reaves.

So James played 36 minutes and scored 20 of his 48 points in the fourth quarter while continuing his career-long history of performing superbly in back-to-back situations.

“Body was sore from the battle that we had (Sunday) versus Philly,” he added. “I guess once I step on the court for warm-ups and the crowd fills in, it’s my job to go out and play the best way I can.”

James’ scoring spree is yet another reminder his career may not even be close to finished.

The victory over Houston was the 1,400th game of James’ NBA career. That’s the 11th-most in NBA history, and if he stays reasonably healthy, he’ll be within range of Robert Parish’s record of 1,611 games played at about the time his current Lakers contract expires in 2025.


That mark doesn’t include James’ 266 career postseason games, and it’s too early to tell whether he’ll be able to add to that playoff total this spring. The Lakers are outside the playoff picture for the second straight year, a fact that frustrates James tremendously.

Yet when Davis is healthy, the Lakers appear to be a postseason contender. That notion keeps James going, along with the innate fire in a player who has been driven to succeed from his first step onto an NBA court in Sacramento nearly two full decades ago.

“Ever since we made the trade for AD to bring him here, our whole thing was about health,” James said. “That’s not changed. We haven’t had the best luck of health, I would say, especially this year. I can’t tell you what I want out of this ballclub (without good health).”

HAWKS: The Atlanta Hawks signed former UNLV and Texas guard Donovan Williams to a two-way contract.

Williams, 21, averaged 15.5 points in 26 games, including 19 starts, for the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League this season. Williams was undrafted after averaging 12.7 points for UNLV in the 2021-22 season. He played two years at Texas before his transfer to UNLV.

Williams replaces Jarrett Culver, who was placed on waivers on Saturday after playing in 10 games, including one start, with Atlanta. The 6-foot-6 Williams was signed by the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 12 and was waived on Oct. 16.


WARRIORS: President Joe Biden welcomed the Golden State Warriors and their families to the White House to honor them for their 2022 NBA title.

As has come tradition with past visits — but had notably stopped under the previous president Donald Trump — Biden, the nation’s 46th president, received a No. 46 Warriors jersey with his name emblazoned on the back in a ceremony in the East Room.

“The Golden State Warriors are always welcomed in this White House,” Biden said before quipping, “Four NBA titles and six Finals in the last eight seasons. That ain’t bad, man.”

Vice President Kamala Harris, an Oakland, California, native, was the opening speaker and discussed her “beloved” Warriors, recalling a time when she once hopped on BART to make sure she wasn’t late to get to a Warriors game. She was presented with another custom jersey — this one a No. 1, as she previously was gifted a No. 49 jersey from the team upon becoming the 49th vice president.

One day after the Warriors beat the Washington Wizards, star guard Stephen Curry and Coach Steve Kerr spoke in the White House press briefing room ahead of the ceremony and said they were excited to be able to celebrate their championship. Curry also specifically thanked the President for his work in helping bring Brittney Griner home from Russia.

“It’s a big part of our basketball family and it means a lot to know that she’s here and home safe with her family and all the work behind the scenes to make that a reality,” Curry said. “I just want to say thank you there.”


NUGGETS: The Denver Nuggets announced on social media that Coach Michael Malone will miss the game Tuesday night against Portland after entering the league’s health and safety protocols.

Assistant coach David Adelman filled in for a Nuggets team that entered the night tied with Memphis for the top spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets (30-13) have won 13 straight home games.


BUCKS 130, RAPTORS 122: Jrue Holiday scored a season-high 37 points and Milwaukee beat visiting Toronto.

The Bucks, playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo for the fourth consecutive game, shot 19 for 39 (49%) from 3-point range.

Fred Van Vleet led Toronto with 39 points. Gary Trent Jr. added 28 points and Pascal Siakam had 23.

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