LeBron James had a special night on Monday in his latest return to Cleveland. The Lakers forward went off for 46 points against his former team en route to a 115-108 Los Angeles win.
James got off to fiery start, scoring 17 points in the first quarter on 6-of-7 from the floor. He cooled down over the next two periods, allowing the Cavs to get back into the game.
At the end of the third quarter, LeBron missed a difficult fadeaway off the front rim as the buzzer sounded. As he headed to the bench he caught a glimpse of a Cleveland front office member clapping emphatically at the empty final possession. The culprit turned out to be Jason Hillman, the Cavaliers’ basketball chief of staff.
Cleveland went into the final quarter ahead 89-87, but it’s never a good idea to give LeBron any additional fuel.
“I felt he was a little too excited about seeing me miss,” James said after the game per Dave McMenamin ESPN.com. “I knew I had another quarter and the fourth quarter is my favorite. It’s a good thing for him I only come here once.”
LeBron said a member of the Cavs front office celebrated his miss at the end of the third. He scored 21 in the fourth.
"He was a little bit too excited about seeing me miss." pic.twitter.com/7gz8poJmRq
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 26, 2021
The fourth quarter turned out to be LeBron’s favorite once again. He outscored the Cavaliers singlehandedly in the final frame, putting up 21 additional points to bring the Lakers out on top. The 36-year-old missed just one field goal down the stretch and locked up the win with an absurdly difficult turnaround fadeaway over two defenders.
Cleveland scored just 19 points in the fourth as they saw their bid for an upset slip away.
LeBron. 46. Goodnight. pic.twitter.com/yetveAVrc0
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 26, 2021
James ended his impressive night going 19-of-26 from the floor and 7-for-11 from beyond the arc. He tacked on eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks on the way to the Lakers 14th win of the year.
LeBron seems to be mounting an early MVP bid as he tries to lead Los Angeles to a repeat of their 2020 NBA title. Through 18 games, he’s averaging 25.4 points per game, alongside 7.9 rebounds and 7.4 assists.
If he hears any additional chirping later this season, the league should probably run for cover.