The LeBron James MVP campaign is off and running.
James poured in 37 points Thursday night to lead the Los Angeles Lakers past the Charlotte Hornets 116-105 for their fourth win in a row. Afterwards, the MVP award was a big topic of conversation during the Lakers’ postgame media sessions, with the four-time winner saying he should have more, and his coach and teammates making the case for him to claim a fifth this season.
“I should have more than four I believe,” James said. “But I don’t and I don’t sit around thinking about it or crying about it or whatever the case may be.
“I bet a lot of the greatest that played this game feel like they should’ve had more as well if you ask any one of those guys.”
James took home the award in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. He is one of five players in NBA history to win four MVPs, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6), Michael Jordan (5), Bill Russell (5) and Wilt Chamberlain (4).
James didn’t shy away from discussing what a fifth MVP would mean, especially in his 18th season. At 36, he would be the oldest MVP in league history.
“It means something, for sure,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and say it doesn’t mean anything to me. For me to be able to win it a few times in my career, it’s always been special.
“It would mean a lot. At my age, what I’m able to do, what I’ve been doing this whole season, what I bring to the table every single night on both sides of the floor. It would mean an unbelievable thing for me personally at this point in my career.”
James is averaging 25.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists this season, while shooting 51.4% from the field and 36.7% from 3-point range. The Lakers have been without the injured Anthony Davis since mid-February, and after some initial struggles, James has helped Los Angeles weather Davis’ absence well. The Lakers moved back into second place in the Western Conference with Thursday’s win.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel agreed with James.
“It’s a mistake on the voters’ part to go season after season without voting the best player in the league MVP,” Vogel said. “It’s unfortunate, it’s not right, and he should get it this year. He’s doing it every night, and no one’s as deserving.”
Here are four more things to know Friday in the NBA:
Rookie finding his rhythm
The Minnesota Timberwolves have the league’s worst record at 10-31, but the recent development of No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Edwards has been a bright spot in a dismal season. Edwards scored a career-high 42 points Thursday to help the Wolves shock the Phoenix Suns 123-119. Over his last nine games, Edwards is averaging 26.4 points and boosting optimism for a young team.
Dubious streak snapped
Bradley Beal poured in 43 points Thursday, and this time the Washington Wizards actually won. The Wizards stunned the league-leading Utah Jazz 131-122 to snap an NBA-record streak of 11 consecutive losses when Beal scores at least 40 points. Beal had 30 points in the second half to help Washington prevail and leads the NBA in scoring at 32.5 points per game.
With the United States ramping up distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, NBA teams are beginning to receive their first doses when eligible. The Atlanta Hawks announced after Thursday’s game that 36 people in the basketball operations staff, including 14 players, took their first dose after meeting Georgia eligibility requirements. Earlier this week, the New Orleans Pelicans said members of the organization, including some players, got the first dose of the vaccine over the weekend.
Game of the night: Mavericks at Blazers
Any matchup between all-world scorers like Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard is appointment viewing. Lillard is second in the NBA in scoring with 30.6 points per game, while Doncic is seventh at 28.5. The two also have their respective teams in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Lillard and Portland enter the game in sixth place, 1½ games ahead of Doncic and Dallas in eighth.
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.