The NBA season only lasts a month, and auction games are not usually held in January. But that’s what LeBron James did in the Lakers 113-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday in Los Angeles.
King’s excellent performance against Giannis Antetokounmpo says a lot about the choice of the best player in the league. This game was the first meeting between James and Antetokounmpo since LeBron finished second in the MVP voting last season, which the four-time champion did not enjoy because he felt he should have received more votes.
Against Giannis and the Bucks, James finished with 34 points, six rebounds and eight assists. He made 13 of 25 shots, including six threes, and played 38 minutes. Antetokounmpo, who also won Defensive Player of the Year last season, led the Bucks with 25 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. But The Greek Freak also converted nine times, and once the game started, the king made the biggest move.
LeBron. The sixth triangle of the night.
(: @SpectrumSN & TNT) pic.twitter.com/a8yKO6M3Qd
– Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 22, 2021
The win gives the Lakers a 12-4 record, the best in the league, and a half-game lead over the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference. Milwaukee, meanwhile, fell to 9-6 and conceded its first loss of the season, but remains third in the Eastern Conference. After the game, James explained that he didn’t have last season’s MVP vote in mind when he faced the Bucks and only focused on winning against the Lakers, who won 8-0 this season.
It was never about individuals (honor), Lakers superstar LeBron James said, according to ESPN. It’s about the success of the team. That’s all that matters. I just want to play well and help our team face any opponent. That’s the point.
But in addition to the team’s success, which he talked about in the win over the Bucks, James also talked about why he should be MVP for the fifth time in his career. After winning the title for the first time in a decade in October, the Lakers faced the shortest offseason in NBA history and were expected to have a few problems early on, especially since they replaced four key players from last year’s team at the end of a grueling championship.
At the beginning of the season, however, this did not seem to be the case. The team made its 18th appearance. James picked up where he left off, averaging 23.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.5 assists. And in one of the Lakers’ biggest games, LeBron was at his best, shooting across the arc and intimidating defenders in the paint in one of his best performances of the season. Whether he admits it or not, the games against Giannis and Milwaukee also seem to light a fire and bring out the best in him.
LeBron James has scored 30 points in 6 of his last 7 games against Giannis Antetokounmpo, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.
– Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) 22. January 2021
It remains to be seen whether James or Antetokounmpo will be MVP at the end of the season, as other players such as Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic also won the award. A lot can still happen this season: The Lakers begin a difficult journey as the Bucks fall behind the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings.
But in Thursday’s game against the reigning MVP and a team that has dominated the regular season for the past two years, LeBron James put the Lakers on the back foot with one of his best performances in 18, a clear indication that King has no intention of giving up his throne as the league’s best player anytime soon.