In a matchup labeled by some as the NBA’s past — LeBron James — vs. the future — Zion Williamson — James reminded the league that he is the present.
The King set a season high with 40 points on 63 percent shooting from the field in the Lakers’ 118-109 victory over the Pelicans on Tuesday.
In a game filled with storylines, including Anthony Davis against the team from which he demanded a trade and the Pelicans’ push for a playoff spot and possible first-round matchup with LA, the biggest was always going to be the first meeting between Williamson and one of the few people on the planet who knows how it feels to be a 19-year-old who is changing the league. It didn’t disappoint.
James and Williamson came out of the gates trading highlight shots like heavyweights.
James started it by converting a through-the-legs pass from Alex Caruso, a play that had Twitter buzzing:
LeBron proceeded to climb the ladder:
How many players can turn a rebound into a viral highlight?
“The kid is special,” James told TNT’s Chris Haynes in a postgame interview .
Williamson was special on Tuesday night, but James was better.
As much as a Tuesday night NBA game in February can take center stage, this one did, and James knew it. He was especially aggressive in the third quarter, when he put Jrue Holliday on a poster , two of his 16 points in the period. The Lakers took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter, which history tells us means the game was already over. The Lakers moved to 38-0 when leading after three quarters this season.
Williamson held up his end of the bargain with 29 points in 33 minutes. Comparing him to James is unfair, mostly because Williamson is 19 and James is one of the greatest basketball players to ever exist. Their games aren’t overly similar, but the hype surrounding their entrance into the league is. TNT compared their stats through their first 12 career games.
The Pelicans are up-and-coming. Brandon Ingram proved, once again, he’s not the same player he was in Los Angeles, scoring 34 points. Still, it was the Lakers who improved to a conference-best 44-12 and remained five games ahead of the second-place Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers are on top, and just in case anyone forgot, LeBron is, too.
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