NBA

'I'm on the other side of the hill' but LeBron has no retirement plans

By Sports Desk December 29, 2021

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James has brushed off retirement talk after recording a triple-double to help end the Los Angeles Lakers' five-game skid on Wednesday.

The Lakers overcame the Houston Rockets 132-123 with James finishing with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists with one steal and two blocks while Russell Westbrook added 24 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Lakers have struggled without center Anthony Davis who succumbed to an MCL sprain in the first of their five straight defeats, when they went down 110-92 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

James, who turns 37 on Thursday, had been unable to arrest the Lakers' slide in Davis' absence but would not be draw on retirement plans.

"I know I'm on the other side of the hill compared to the hill I was on before," James said at the post-game news conference.

"I've thought about it, where I'm at and whether I'm still playing at such a high level. I've done 19 [seasons] and I'm not gonna do another 19.

"We'll see where my body takes me and my mind takes me. As long as my mind is fresh and my body stays with that, I can play the game.

"I've put in enough hours and punched enough clocks to know when that time comes I'll be OK with it."

The Lakers had endured a frustrating stretch falling below .500, having not won since December 15 when they got past the Dallas Mavericks 107-104 in over-time until breaking that against the Rockets.

"This is the pros," James told reporters after the win over the Rockets. "The hardest thing in this league is to win.

"At any level, any pro, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, WNBA, the hardest thing to do is to win. It doesn’t matter who you're playing against or who's on the floor, everyone was drafted or signed to this level for a reason.

"Any time you can get a win in this league you don’t take it for granted."

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    Jimmy Butler turned in one of the great playoff displays for the Heat on Friday as a 111-103 away win forced the Eastern Conference Finals series to Game 7, tied at 3-3.

    Butler scored a playoff career-high 47 points, claimed nine rebounds and provided eight assists, with 17 of his points coming in the final quarter.

    While the momentum might now be with the Heat, who have home-court advantage for the final game of the series, Tatum believes the Celtics can step up.

    Asked what his confidence level was heading into Game 7, Tatum replied: "On a scale from 1-10 – 10. It shouldn't be any less than that, right? You know, it's the last game. This is what it's all about. 

    "On a scale from 1-10, it's a 10 for my confidence level in myself and the group.

    "It's no secret, it's Game 7. A trip to the NBA Finals – there's a lot on the line.

    "A couple of us have been in this situation before, so we know what's at stake, we know how much this means to everybody. We know that going into the game."

    Tatum led the way for Boston, scoring 30 points and finishing with nine rebounds and four assists, though he only made one shot in the fourth quarter while Butler took hold at the other end.

    "I think it was just in the flow of the game, and how the game was going," Tatum said.

    "Obviously I've got to watch the film, and things like that, but I think being out there, and the feel of the game, I was drawing a lot of attention.

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    He added nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals and a block, becoming the first player since Michael Jordan in 1988 to have multiple games of at least 40 points and four steals in the same series.

    After only producing a combined 14 points and eight assists in the three games he played this series, Lowry was superb, scoring 18 points and dishing 10 assists before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

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    Jimmy Butler played the game of his life to lift the Miami Heat to a 111-103 win away from home against the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday.

    The win keeps the Heat's season alive, tying the series at 3-3, with Game 7 heading back to Miami on Sunday.

    Butler had complete control of the game throughout, scoring 21 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing six assists – and that was just in the first half, single-handedly carrying the Heat to a 48-46 lead at the long break.

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    Lowry, after a combined 14 points and eight assists in the three contests prior to Game 6 he was healthy for, scored 18 points (five-of-14 from the field, four-of-nine from deep) and dished 10 assists, while Max Strus hit three-of-eight from long range for his 12 points.

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    With his Game 6 showing, he became the first player since Michael Jordan in 1988 to have multiple games in a playoff series with at least 40 points and four steals.

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