PHOENIX — After a 28-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist performance secured LeBron James his 14th triple-double of the season — setting a new career high in that category after notching 13 triple-doubles in 2016-17 — the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar said it’s a credit to his ability, not to the evolving state of NBA basketball.
When it was suggested that teams around the league playing at a faster pace could have something to do with it — because more possessions mean more chances to rack up statistics — James shot down that premise.
“More possessions my ass. What are you talking about?” James said. “I’m getting better with age, that’s what it’s saying.”
James’ Cavs averaged 94.6 possessions per game in his rookie season in 2003-04, according to TeamRankings.com. The league leader in possessions per game in 2003-04 was the Dallas Mavericks with 96.7. This season, by comparison, Cleveland averages 101 possessions per game, and the league leader, New Orleans, averages 105.1.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the league average for possessions per game this season is 99.54. In ’03-04, the league average was 92.69.
Still, Tuesday was James’ 69th career triple-double, ranking him No. 6 on the all-time list behind Oscar Robertson (181), Magic Johnson (138), Jason Kidd (107), Russell Westbrook (100) and Wilt Chamberlain (78).
“I think I was just playing in all three facets and more,” James said of Tuesday’s game. “I was able to get a charge as well, pick up a couple blocks, couple steals. It’s just being around the court and being reliable to my teammates. For me to be able to clean glass and get my guys good looks where they were able to just catch-and-shoot or catch and lay it up, it made it a lot easier for me for sure. With the scoring, I just tried to be aggressive and got to the free-throw line tonight and was able to knock those down, too.”
James’ 15 free throw attempts were a season high.
In 10 games in February, James averaged 27 points on 54.6 percent shooting, 10.5 rebounds and 10.5 assists, representing the first time in his 15-year career he has averaged a triple-double for an entire month.
He has kept it up in March, averaging 28.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists in seven games thus far.