LOS ANGELES, USA – LeBron James outgunned Zion Williamson as the Los Angeles Lakers returned to action just 24 hours after the searing emotion of Kobe Bryant’s memorial service.
James, who earlier Tuesday said he was “emotionally a wreck” following Bryant’s death last month in a helicopter crash, scored a season-high 40 points in a 118-109 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at the Staples Center.
On Monday, the venue had hosted a star-studded memorial to Bryant as the Lakers and Los Angeles bade a wrenching farewell to one of the city’s most beloved sporting figures. (WATCH: World says goodbye to Kobe Bryant in LA memorial)
However, James and the Lakers swiftly got back into the winning groove on Tuesday in a free-flowing contest against a Pelicans side led by No. 1 Draft pick Williamson.
The hulking 19-year-old New Orleans star once again served notice of his talents with a 29-point display as the Pelicans pushed the Lakers all the way.
James admitted afterwards he had been impressed by Williamson’s performance after a Lakers win which extended their lead at the top of the Western Conference.
“Every game is going to be an opportunity for him to get better and a learning experience for him,” James said of Williamson.
“But the kid is special man. They got a good one in him,” added James, who also had 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 turnovers in his 34 minutes on court.
Anthony Davis added 21 points for the Lakers with Danny Green (17 points) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (15) also reaching double figures.
Former Lakers power forward Brandon Ingram led the Pelicans scoring with 34 points.
The Denver Nuggets are five games behind the Lakers in second place in the Western standings after cruising past the Detroit Pistons 115-98 on Tuesday.
LeBron James after scoring a season-high 40 points: “To be out there with my guys and be able to get a win, that’s always the greatest satisfaction I can have.” pic.twitter.com/OsBCzsZ3t8— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 26, 2020