Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel praised LeBron James after he scored 50 points for the second time in the past six days in Friday night's 122-109 win over the Washington Wizards.
James, who dropped 56 points in a victory against the Golden State Warriors last Saturday, is averaging 36.2 points through five March games and is now tied for the NBA lead in scoring at 29.7 points per game.
Vogel called the 37-year-old future Hall of Famer's recent performances "unbelievable":
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"The league has never seen a player at this stage of his career doing what he's doing...that needs to be recognized. It's unbelievable." Frank Vogel reflects on LeBron's performance in tonight's <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Lakers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Lakers</a> win over the Wizards. <a href="https://twitter.com/LakersReporter?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LakersReporter</a> <a href="https://t.co/TYgf2bbh4p">pic.twitter.com/TYgf2bbh4p</a>
It's been a frustrating year for the Lakers, who are having to fight tooth and nail down the stretch just to secure a berth in the Western Conference play-in tournament. Their 29-37 record ranks ninth in the West, a mere 3.5 games ahead of the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers, the first two teams outside the cut line.
Little has gone right for L.A. following a significant roster overhaul in the offseason. Russell Westbrook, the marquee addition last summer, hasn't lived up to expectations, and Anthony Davis has missed 29 games and counting because of injuries.
Add in unsteady contributions from role players, and much of the Lakers' burden has fallen on the shoulders of James in his 19th NBA season.
He's doing everything in his power to keep Los Angeles afloat. Along with his league-leading scoring, he's also averaged 8.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks through 48 games.
The four-time MVP said after Friday's win over the Wizards there's no secret formula to his recent success.
"Just always trying to stay present," James told reporters. "And when gameday is here, I'm here five hours before the game and prepping—prepping on myself individually, prepping on what I need to do to help this team be victorious, prepping on everything I can possibly do in my power to try to help this team be as great as we can be that night."
Westbrook's offensive struggles continued against Washington (five points on 2-of-11 shooting) and Davis remains without a firm timetable to rejoin the lineup from his mid-foot sprain, so the Lakers will continue to lean heavily on King James if they're going to lock down a play-in berth.
L.A. faces a stiff test next time out when it visits the NBA-leading Phoenix Suns (53-14) on Sunday.