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Lakers' LeBron James on 47-Point Game vs. Hawks: Scoring 30 'Hasn't Worked'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 31, 2022

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 30:  LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after shooting a three-point basket against Onyeka Okongwu #17 of the Atlanta Hawks during the fourth quarter at State Farm Arena on December 30, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Amid the Los Angeles Lakers' struggles this season, superstar forward LeBron James knew he had to take matters into his own hands, leading to a 47-point effort in a 130-121 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, James suggested that he had to take his offensive production to the next level in order to get the Lakers back on track, saying: "I've been scoring 30 and it hasn't worked, so ... try 40. And we got a win. It's math."

Making the performance even more impressive is the fact that LeBron pulled it off on his 38th birthday.

Friday's win was a huge one for L.A. since it had lost five of its previous six games while Anthony Davis has been on the shelf with a foot injury.

The Lakers improved to 15-21 with the victory, leaving them in 13th place in the Western Conference, three games out of the final postseason play-in spot.

Los Angeles has a chance to be a playoff contender if AD can get healthy and James can continue playing at the level he showcased Friday, but it won't be easy for the 38-year-old veteran to continue pouring in 40 points per night.

LeBron has been his usual spectacular self when healthy and in the lineup this season, though, averaging 28.5 points. 8.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists, in addition to shooting 50.6 percent from the field.

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham called James "nothing short of phenomenal" and "amazing" for what he did against the Hawks, especially when considering how long he has been performing at an elite level.

Per McMenamin, the 18 years and 278 days between LeBron's first and most-recent 40-point efforts in an NBA game surpassed the record previously held by the legendary Michael Jordan.

James playing as well as he is at 38 is almost unprecedented in the annals of NBA history, but it is essentially a necessity in order for the Lakers to have any hope of making the playoffs.

A trade to shake up the supporting cast ahead of the deadline could get the Lakers closer to contention, but even then, LeBron and Davis will undoubtedly be the key to how far L.A. goes this season.