LeBron James follows Michael Jordan with 40 points

NEW YORK — Few players have been playing basketball as long as LeBron James, and the 39-year-old Los Angeles Lakers star continues to prove that at his age, no one can play better.

James scored 40 points in Los Angeles’ 116-104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, becoming the only player in NBA history to score 40 or more points multiple times after turning 39. Jordan played until he was 40, and he did it three times.

The 21-year-old veteran shot 13 of 17 from the field, hit a career high in three-pointers, and made 9 of 10 three-pointers.

“I don’t have to keep reading (three-pointers) because I can do a lot of things — once I get across half court, I can basically score at any level on the court,” James said of his improvement in the late stages of his career as a marksman. “But being able to have a growth mindset and being able to commit to things that are changing in the league, which is a three-point heavy league.

“I’m not one of those guys who wants to average 12, 14 or 15 three-pointers a game. But I want to be respected and teams have to hit me from the outside. That’s still a thing for the team. (Think) … ‘If we have to give something up, we’d rather he shoot from outside.'”

Brooklyn won’t necessarily leave James open. The Lakers star simply got hot and made nearly every move he took from beyond the arc. He saved his best performance for last, finishing with 17 points on 5-for-6 shooting (4-for-3 from 3) in the fourth quarter, as the Nets had cut Los Angeles’ 11-26 lead. It was reduced to 15 points. 11:42 left at eight.

“It’s incredible,” Lakers coach Davon Hamm said. “I told him in the crowd before he made his last sprint and we ended up taking him off (I was) so grateful that he packed the cape on the road. Needed all nine wickets.”

The win moves Los Angeles to 3-1 on a six-game road trip on Tuesday and Wednesday that will feature back-to-back games against the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards. The Lakers sit in ninth place in the Western Conference with seven games left in the regular season, 1.5 games behind the seventh-place Phoenix Suns.

Easter’s shooting performance improved James’ three-point shooting percentage this season to 41.6%, which is the highest level of his career.

“Those shots he took didn’t hit the rim,” Anthony Davis said. “It’s always great to watch. I mean, most scores in NBA history, you know? He just keeps adding to it. But the way he shot it tonight was outstanding.”

James shot only 32.1% from three-point range last season. He said an injury he suffered in February — a torn tendon in his right foot — prevented him from maintaining a shooting rhythm in the time between practices and games.

“My foot feels better,” James said. “I didn’t have a lot of time last year to really do multiple practices because I had to make sure I could run up and down the floor or (not) put my feet on the floor. I had a lot of chances to play at one point. You might Seeing me out there before every game, working on my game, working on my technique. So that helps a lot too. Just trying to be consistent with my shooting, making the same shots every time. Just work. Just work, work, work, work.”

Victory was all but assured when James was subbed out late in the fourth quarter, receiving a standing ovation from the away crowd and pretending to put a crown on his head to show their appreciation.

With James still looking as good as ever in some areas, it naturally begs the question: How long does he plan to play?

“It won’t be long,” James said. “It won’t be too long. Obviously, I’m on the other side of the mountain. So I won’t play another 21 years, that’s for sure. But it won’t be too long. I don’t know what or when until the time I retire, the door It will close, but I don’t have much time left.”

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