LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Los Angeles superstar LeBron James celebrated his 36th birthday on Wednesday (Dec 30) with another National Basketball Association (NBA) milestone, scoring double-digit points for the 1,000th straight game in the Lakers’ 121-107 victory over the Spurs in San Antonio.
James finished with 26 points to extend his already record streak of double-digit games in the regular season.
He sealed the milestone midway through the second quarter with a turnaround jump hook that gave the Lakers a 46-37 lead.
“I just try to live in the moment and just try to continue to get better with my game, try to get better with my teammates and try to just maximise when I’m on the floor,” said James, who is in his 18th NBA campaign after leading the Lakers to the 2020 title in the league’s quarantine bubble in Orlando.
“I’ve been blessed to play the game that I love for 18 years and hopefully I can continue to play at a high level,” he said.
James’ double-digit scoring streak began on January 6, 2007, when he was playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It’s a tribute to his tenacity level … his commitment to excellence,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game. “He deserves a lot of credit for being the consummate professional. His mental state along with his physical state really makes him really special.”
Shortly after James reached the milestone, Popovich was ejected from the contest for arguing with officials.
Assistant Becky Hammon took over on the Spurs bench, becoming the first woman to direct a team in an NBA game.
Anthony Davis scored 20 points and pulled down nine rebounds for the Lakers, newcomer Dennis Schroder added 21 points and four assists.
Wesley Matthews had his best game since joining the champions, scoring 18 points off the bench as he made all six of his three-point attempts.
Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, who missed two games with a mouth injury from an elbow to the face, returned in a protective mask to score a game-high 28 points in his team’s 128-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.