James shoots a triple against the Houston Rockets.
(CNN) – Call it showmanship, call it extraordinary spatial awareness, but LeBron James took his performance to a whole new level against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday.
Already ahead by 21 points against the Rockets in the second quarter, James caught a pass in the corner in front of his Los Angeles Lakers bench and heard the voice of Dennis Schroder. “I told him to bet on a Benjamin, so he shot him,” Schroder said.
James then turned to meet Schroder’s eyes as he tried the triple.
“I took the bet while I was still throwing the ball,” explained the four-time NBA champion.
“A bet is not official until you look a man in the eye, so I had to look him in the eye and I was able to win that one.”
To the delight of his teammates and with James still not looking at the basket, the shot went in and the Lakers bench erupted in celebration.
“First time I’ve seen LeBron do that.”
(📺: @SpectrumSN) pic.twitter.com/Tg46L2TI5X
– Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 13, 2021
While his repertoire of extraordinary abilities is wide and varied, no-looking 3s have not been a regular for James.
So, after surprising his teammates with his feat on Tuesday, James paid tribute to Steph Curry, one of the NBA’s best pitchers and someone who has made blind shots more common.
“Steph is probably the top scorer in our league, and when you shoot the ball so beautifully, effortlessly and just like Steph does, he has the ultimate ultra-green light to do that,” explained James.
Because 10 times out of nine are for Steph.
The tremendous no-look triple was the climax of the Lakers’ dominant 117-100 win over the Rockets.
Behind James ’26 points and Antony Davis’ 19 points, the reigning NBA champions improved their record to 9-3, the best in the league, and are now undefeated on the road.
‘This situation is crazy’
For the Rockets, it’s been a rocky start to the 2020-21 season.
After the trade request reported by 2018 MVP James Harden fell on deaf ears and their first game was postponed, the Rockets are 3-6 so far after back-to-back losses to the Lakers.
Following Tuesday’s loss, in which the Rockets trailed the Lakers by as much as 30 points in some stages, Harden called the team’s situation “crazy.”
“I love this city,” said Harden, who joined from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012. “I’ve literally done everything I can. This situation is insane. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.
Despite the additions of veterans like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, the Rockets’ normally fluid offense has been baffled this year.
And this boils down to Harden’s own struggles. The 31-year-old has won the NBA scoring champion title for the past three seasons, but has failed to score more than 20 points in four straight games, his longest streak since 2012.
“Honestly, we’re not even close to that team – obviously the defending champions – and all the other elite teams,” Harden said. «You can see the difference in these last two games.
«Of course, the chemistry, the talent, everything, and it was clear how I said these last games. From the beginning of the game, it was just an aggressive team, veteran, obviously, a championship team, and one of the best teams we have in this league.
Missing one star, leaning on another
With Kyrie Irving lost for the fourth straight game for personal reasons, the Brooklyn Nets had to rely on another superstar to help them get out of a hole Tuesday night.
The Nets, led by Kevin Durant’s 34 points, 13 assists and 9 rebounds, rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half to defeat the Denver Nuggets 122-116 on Tuesday night.
During the game, Durant edged out Elgin Baylor, Dwyane Wade and Adrian Dantley on the all-time scorers list and climbed to 28th all-time.
On Irving’s absence, Nets general manager Sean Marks said the organization was “aware of a video on social media showing Kyrie Irving at a family reunion.”
“We reviewed the circumstances with both Kyrie and the NBA to determine compliance with health and safety protocols,” Marks said. “Kyrie remains out of the team for personal reasons.”
“The date of his return has not yet been specified. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on our organizational goals. Kyrie will have the opportunity to address his absence when he is ready to do so.
Irving has yet to comment publicly.
More games postponed
Meanwhile, six NBA games have been postponed this season due to league health and safety protocols.
For the third time in less than a week, the Boston Celtics had a game postponed due to covid-19 issues.
Wednesday’s home game at TD Garden against Orlando Magic was canceled after the league reported in a statement that testing and contact tracing within the Celtics organization has left the team short of eight available players. required by the NBA for the Celtics to take to the court.
In addition, it was also announced that Wednesday’s game between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards was postponed because the Wizards would not have the eight players required by the league. With this, five games have been canceled since Sunday.