LeBron James Shines in NBA's In-Season Tournament Semifinals



by FARUK IMAMOVIC

LeBron James Shines in NBA's In-Season Tournament Semifinals
© Getty Images Sport/Ethan Miller

LeBron James, nearing his 39th birthday, delivered a stunning performance, highlighting his enduring prowess in the Los Angeles Lakers' commanding victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

James' Stellar Performance

Under the dramatic theater lighting of T-Mobile Arena, James was the star of the show in the semifinals.

He dazzled with 30 points, eight assists, and five rebounds, leading the Lakers to a 133-89 triumph on Thursday. This victory sets up a championship showdown with the Indiana Pacers, who had earlier defeated the Milwaukee Bucks.

Reflecting on his career and the possibility of retirement he considered in the offseason, James shared with ESPN, "But I'm happy that I'm here; this is a pretty cool moment, and let's see if we can capitalize on it. It's been good.

It's been dope." His performance against the Pelicans, where he shot 9 of 12 from the field, including a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point range, reaffirmed his decision to continue playing.

Defensive Mastery and Looking Ahead

James' efforts weren't just on the offensive end.

His defensive prowess was equally remarkable. He notably took a charge from Zion Williamson, who is 23 years old, in the first quarter and drew two more in the second. This commitment to defense, particularly from a player who has logged the most minutes in league history, set a tone for the Lakers.

Teammate Reaves noted, "Any time your best player sacrifices his body ... it sets a tone." Asked about drawing such contact at his age, James humorously referenced the tournament's significant cash prize, saying, "Listen man, not for that 500, I ain't." With 18 points in the second quarter alone, James was instrumental in building a 67-54 lead for L.A.

at halftime. Now, the Lakers, led by James, are eyeing another championship this weekend. As James put it, referencing a Jay-Z lyric, "We've got to finish our breakfast on Saturday." The tournament offers an opportunity for the Lakers to build momentum as they continue their pursuit of the NBA championship in June.

Coach Ham emphasized the broader goal, stating, "We are just trying to build a rhythm and be the best team we can be and put our best foot forward on a daily basis." The in-season tournament aligns perfectly with this objective, providing a competitive platform for the Lakers to showcase their strengths.

Lebron James Los Angeles Lakers Los Angeles