LeBron James was sure to remind all of us after the Los Angeles Lakers' dominant 133-89 NBA In-Season Tournament semifinal win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday that, "It's still December," but he certainly didn't play like it was any old regular-season game. James was on a mission from the jump, playing with the ferocity and precision that we've seen during various peaks of his legendary 21-year career, this time leading the Lakers to the In-Season Tournament championship game on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers in Las Vegas.
James finished with an efficient 30 points, eight assists and five rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting in the win -- excellent numbers, for sure, but nothing spectacular given his other accomplishments. The unique thing about this game, however, was that due to the Lakers' massive early lead, he was able to put up those totals in just 23 minutes -- 22 minutes and 32 seconds, to be exact.
Just a few weeks before his 39th birthday, James became the first player in NBA history to put up at least 30 points, five assists and five rebounds in 23 minutes or fewer. Absolutely remarkable stuff from James, who didn't commit a single turnover and was a game-high plus-36 in the box score.
LeBron James came out in ATTACK MODE to lead the Lakers to the Championship of the NBA In-Season Tournament 👑— NBA (@NBA) December 8, 2023
30 PTS / 9-12 FGM / 4-4 3PM / 8 AST / 23 MIN
🏆 The Lakers and Pacers will meet in the first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament Championship Saturday at 8:30pm/et on ABC! pic.twitter.com/fKZehP4Ko3
James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's all-time minutes leader (regular season and playoffs combined) last week, after overtaking Abdul-Jabbar for first on the all-time points list last season. There are far too many accolades in James' record book to list here, but it's absolutely remarkable that he's still finding new ways to make history in his 21st season.
He'll try to do more of the same on Saturday when the Lakers battle for the inaugural NBA Cup.
"It's still December, so I'm not getting too crazy about the whole thing," James told TNT on the court after Thursday's win. "This thing has been great, the In-Season Tournament, but it's still December. ... We're a team that wants to get better every single game we go out there, every quarter, every possession. So, we've got another opportunity to do that."