LeBron James ‘turns it up,’ scores 37 in win over Brooks, Rockets

Dave McMenaminESPN Staff WriterNov 20, 2023, 03:12 AM ET5 Minute Read

LeBron hits Dillon Brooks with ‘too small’ gesture

LeBron James scores inside against Dillon Brooks and then taunts him with a “too small” gesture near the Lakers’ bench.

LOS ANGELES — The night before LeBron James scored a season-high 37 points — including the go-ahead free throw with 1.9 seconds left — while logging 40 minutes to lead the Lakers over the Houston Rockets 105-104 on Sunday, he had something to get off his chest.

It was a rare evening off for the 38-year-old player, with his team in the middle of a stretch of six games in nine days, and he took a break from playing Madden NFL 24 to make a post to his Instagram story.

He shared a graphic showing how his 35 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday was the 108th time he topped the 30-point plateau since signing with Los Angeles as a free agent in 2018.

“But I just came here to make movies though!” James wrote, referring to derision he received when he made the move out of Cleveland. “Ain’t that what ya’ll said right!?!?”

Why did he choose that moment to clap back at critics?

“Because sometimes you need to remind folks,” James said Sunday after the win over the Rockets.

He reminded his teammates he can still get up in the air, finishing a drive with a thunderous dunk midway through the fourth that put L.A. up by seven and caused Houston to call timeout.

“They’ve been joking about me, saying that I lay the ball up too much when I got an open lane,” James said with a satisfied smile. “So I’m trying to change that narrative, too.”

He reminded the armchair coaches who questioned why he would pass to an open Cam Reddish with the game on the line earlier in the season that he’ll continue to find the open man in crunch time, as he did by setting up Austin Reaves for a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24.2 seconds left to put L.A. up 103-100.

He reminded the Rockets’ Dillon Brooks, who has become a willing agitator of his in recent seasons, to rattle the cage at his own risk, as James scored 13 of his points in the fourth quarter on 5-of-6 shooting.

“That’s competition,” James said of Brooks, who, in the third quarter, caused a technical foul to be called on James by crowding his space and prompting an elbow and, in the fourth, prompted James to make a “too small” gesture after scoring on him in the paint. “Those young guys, they get me going. So, I need that.”

LeBron James kept up what would be a historically efficient season for him Sunday night against the Rockets and willing agitator Dillon Brooks, scoring a season-high 37 points that included the go-ahead free throw.Eric Thayer/AP

And James is reminding himself of why he continues to want to play in the NBA, with his financial future and career accomplishments already secured.

“Just trying to push the limit,” he said. “See how far I can take this thing. I don’t know. I mean, it’s me vs. Father Time.”

James is now up to 109 games with 30 or more points as a Laker, and he passed Lakers legend Kobe Bryant on another historical list while doing so. James is up to 237 career games with 35 points or more, eclipsing Bryant’s 236, to move into third all time, behind only Wilt…

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