After the Los Angeles Clippers destroyed the Los Angeles Lakers by 18 points on January 24, Clippers star Kawhi Leonard sent a strong message on Lakers superstar LeBron James.
Leonard, who finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and three assists, called James a “one-of-one” talent when Tomer Azarly of ClutchPoints asked him to talk about the Lakers forward approaching the all-time scoring record. James, who scored 46 points against the Clippers, is 178 points away from passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring mark of 38,387 points.
“I didn’t think of it too much until he’s gotten closer and closer,” Leonard said. “But yeah, one-of-one talent right there. I mean, you see it for yourself. The way he’s playing at this age. Definitely inspirational for everyone, just to sustain that energy and that mindset to play that long and still wanting to go out and contribute with this effort. So yeah, like I say, he’s an inspiration for everyone.”
By scoring 46 points against the Clippers, James became the only player in NBA history to score 40 points against all 30 teams. The 38-year-old future Hall of Famer is averaging 30.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.9 assists on the season, defying Father Time by putting up spectacular numbers in his 20th season.
“It’s just incredible,” Clippers All-Star Paul George said of James. “I think the one thing that sticks out is just how long he’s been doing it. To be 38 [and score] 46 tonight. That is super impressive. To do it 20 years, that’s what stands out the most is just his longevity in his game and to be available. He’s pretty much been available throughout his whole career. But, you know, the league is his. Stand-up guy, been [an] amazing mentor, leader to a lot of us young guys and he’s been awesome. It’s great that he’ll be the scoring leader.”
LeBron James Is Frustrated With Losing
The Lakers have struggled since winning the 2020 championship over the Miami Heat. They lost in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, missed the postseason in 2022 and are only 22-26 this season. James, who passed Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant on the all-time scoring list in games the Lakers lost, is tired of making history in losses.
“Just over the last few years, the last couple years since we won a championship, just a lot of accomplishments have been happening in a losing effort,” James said. “So, it’s been very kind of difficult to kind of even digest some or all the accomplishments because I don’t want to celebrate on losses.”
Only three players scored in double-figures for the Lakers against the Clippers: James, Russell Westbrook (17) and Thomas Bryant (15). Westbrook shot just 30.8% from the field and 25.0% from beyond the arc. It was a rough night for the one-time MVP, who got into it with Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times during his postgame press conference.
The Lakers dropped to 13th place in the Western Conference standings after losing to the Clippers. The purple and gold have lost 10 straight games to the Clips.
Will the Lakers Make Another Trade?
The Lakers traded Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to the Washington Wizards for Rui Hachimura. Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka told local reporters before the Clippers game that the franchise could make another trade.
“I think the calculus for the Lakers is to win a championship or not. There’s no in-between or incremental growth,” Pelinka said. “So as we analyze opportunities, we have to do it through that lens. And, I said this at the beginning of the season, if there’s an opportunity to get all the way to the end and win a championship, there’s no resource we’ll hold on to if we feel like that’s there.”
The NBA trade deadline is February 9.