EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — LeBron James was supposed to be tired. He was expected to have sat out, what, three or four games at this point in the season?
The Lakers’ off-season was historically short but it doesn’t seem to matter to James.
All he did Monday was score 46 points in his second trip back to Cleveland since joining the Lakers. He scored 13 points in the last 4:41 and showed the latest wrinkle in his game by making seven of 11 three-pointers in the Lakers’ 115-108 victory over the Cavaliers.
James, who turned 36 last month, is now shooting 41.2% from three-point range. This would be the best season of his career behind the arc if he kept it up.
“I just never want to put a ceiling on my potential. I just want to get better and better,” he said.
Somehow, in his 18th NBA season, he’s still finding ways to improve.
He was four for five from three-point range in the first half and also made his last three of the game, including a 34-footer from the left side of the Cavaliers midcourt logo.
“It’s pretty awesome just to see he can still turn it up like that,” Lakers Coach Frank Vogel said. “Obviously he wanted a win against his former team here.”
Thanks to James, the Lakers extended a franchise record by winning their 10th consecutive road game to start a season.
James added 8 rebounds and 6 assists on a night where Anthony Davis didn’t shoot well (5 for 16) and scored a quiet 17 points.
James refuses to sit out a game even though the Lakers had only 71 days between Game 6 of the NBA Finals and the start of this season.
“We were prepared to let him sit some games out from time to time,” Vogel acknowledged Monday. “He hasn’t needed it.”
Not in the least.
The Lakers (14-4) were up only two points when James started his late-game spree.
After the logo three, he drove to the basket for a layup, hit a step-back three-pointer as the shot clock wound down, found Davis for a dunk, drilled another three, and hit a turnaround from the right side over two defenders. That’s all.
The Lakers needed James’ effort against the vastly improved Cavaliers. Andre Drummond had 25 points and 17 rebounds to keep Cleveland close. Cedi Osman added 20 points.