LeBron James scored 32 points one day after taking a trip down memory lane as the Los Angeles Lakers won their seventh straight game with a 101-94 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.
James made 12 of 21 from the field, and added 13 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks to help the Lakers extend their road winning streak to 14 games.
“Highlights: sometimes they happen, sometimes they don’t,” James said. “I try to play the game with a lot of joy.”
That kind of talk is a way for James to return to his basketball roots.
And he did just that on Saturday with a side trip to his homestate of Ohio so he could watch his son Bronny play a high school game in Columbus. James grew up 150 miles northeast in Akron.
James’ unexpected jaunt came a day after he scored 28 points in a win over his former team, the Miami Heat.
He never considered sitting out against the Hawks.
“I don’t know how many games I’ve got left in my career,” the 34-year-old James said. “I don’t know how many kids show up to come see me play. That’s my obligation. My obligation is to play.”
The Lakers also got 27 points and 13 rebounds from Anthony Davis, who picked up his 12th double-double.
Trae Young scored 30 points for the Hawks, who have lost four straight. Young went nine-of-23 from the field and nailed three three pointers.
It was the 13th time Young has scored at least 30 points this season. Atlanta also got 12 points from Jabari Parker.
The Lakers’ 14 game road winning streak is the longest by the club since they won 18 straight away from home during their NBA record 33-game winning streak in 1972-73.
Their only road loss this season was at Staples Center, when the Clippers were designated the “home” team in the building they share.
The Hawks, who lost to the Lakers by 21 last month in Los Angeles, were in the game until the end.
De’Andre Hunter hit a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to cut the Lakers lead to 98-96.
But James made one of two free throws with 15 seconds left to extend the lead to 99-96. Lakers’ Danny Green grabbed a rebound, was fouled and made two free throws to help seal the victory.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Isaac scored a team-high 21 points as eight Orlando players finished in double figures as the visiting Magic handed the New Orleans Pelicans their franchise-worst 12th consecutive loss 130-119.
Isaac also had 11 rebounds and Nikola Vucevic scored 20 points for the Magic who made 17 of 34 shots from beyond the arc. Vucevic missed the previous 11 games with an ankle injury.
D.J. Augustin scored 17, while Evan Fournier had 16. Terrence Ross added 14, Mo Bamba 13 and Michael Carter-Williams and Markelle Fultz had 10 each.
The Magic halted a three-game losing streak that came against some of the elite teams in the NBA – the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.
Jrue Holiday scored 29 points, JJ Redick added 23, Brandon Ingram had 21 and Josh Hart had 20 for the Pelicans, who haven’t won since November 21.
Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was thrown out after being called for two technical fouls in the third quarter.