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Lakers’ LeBron James says he doesn’t ‘have much time left’ in career after historic performance in Brooklyn

King James took over Kings County.

LeBron James delivered such a jaw-dropping shooting clinic during the Lakers’ 116-104 win in Brooklyn on Sunday that an astonished Barclays Center crowd gave the four-time NBA MVP a rare road standing ovation.

Gasps of disbelief repeatedly filled the sold-out arena as James drained off-balance 3-pointer after off-balance 3-pointer, finishing with a game-high 40 points while making 9-of-10 from beyond the arc.

The nine 3-pointers tied a career high for James, who, in his 21st NBA season, is now shooting a career-best 41.6% from deep. Sunday’s spectacle offered yet another moment to marvel at the 39-year-old James, who was asked afterward how much longer he expects to play.

“Not very long,” said James, a four-time NBA champion. “I’m on the other side, obviously, of the hill, so I’m not going to play another 21 years. That’s for damn sure. Not very long. I don’t know when that door would close, as far as when I’ll retire, but I don’t have much time left.”

James’ presence provided a jolt from the jump. His pregame introduction earned a raucous reception, much louder than the subdued cheers a welcome back message for former Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie yielded seconds earlier.

The audience of 18,162 — many of them wearing purple-and-gold No. 23 jerseys — grew increasingly rowdier as James rattled off four of his 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, a stunning stretch that included a step-back fade-away from the left corner with 7:15 remaining.

He nailed another less than a minute later, this time over 6-11 Nets center Nic Claxton. Hundreds of fans pulled out their phones to record the Lakers’ next possession, hoping to capture James’ excellence on camera.

James’ final trip to the bench with 2:57 remaining prompted the standing ovation, which the 20-time All-Star responded to with a wave and his signature “crown” gesture.

“It’s a really good feeling when you have it going and you’re winning,” James said. “That’s the most important [thing] for me, but the appreciation for fans here, I just tried to give them the game back and it was very well received.”

James is averaging 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists for a surging Lakers team that’s won six of its last seven games to improve to 42-33. The 40 points tied a season high for James, who has now reached that total three times in 2023-24. He previously made nine 3-pointers on 14 attempts during a January 2023 loss to the Clippers.

Kobe Bryant is the only other Laker to make nine 3-pointers in multiple games.

Lakers teammate Anthony Davis described James’ 3-point onslaught as “masterful.” Head coach Darvin Ham compared the star to a superhero, saying he’s grateful James “packed the cape.”

“No defense can stop that,” said Nets interim coach Kevin Ollie, a former teammate of James. “We tried to hit him a couple of times, but you know, when you’re falling out of bounds in the first row, making it all net, he just got one of those ‘flow’ moments. That’s what greatness is. Just a great player. He had it going tonight, and I tip my hat off to him. But this is New York, too. So we got to predict that, that he’s gonna try to show out, being in New York.”

Sunday provided another example of James’ evolution. James, a 34.7% 3-point shooter for his career, said honing that part of his game has been a point of emphasis in recent seasons. He’s attempting 5.3 3-pointers per game this season, nearly one more than he’s averaged for his career.

“I never have to lean on it because I can score at any level of the floor … but being able to have a growth mindset and being able to work on things that the league is changing to [is important],” James said. “The league is a heavy 3-point shooting league. I’m not one of those guys that wants to go out there and shoot 12, 14, 15 threes a game, but I want to be respected.”


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