“My teammates are making shots … and I couldn’t do that without them,” James said at Tuesday’s shootaround when asked about the approaching accomplishment. “I just try to put the ball on time and on target, if it’s a cross-court pass to a shooter or an outlet pass to a streaking runner or a lob to one of my bigs. They actually have to make the shot for it to become an assist.
“Rebounding for me has always been instinctual. I’m not a big boxout guy; I’ve always kind of used my instincts and seeing the ball if it’s coming off the rim, how it’s coming off the backboard or off the guy’s hands and just try to use my athleticism to get the rebounds.”
With 20-plus points on Tuesday, James tied Michael Jordan for fourth place on the all-time list of 20-point performances with 926.
“Wow,” Lue said of James. “Hell of a achievement. I mean, yeah, especially coming into the league he’s a pass-first guy. Unselfish. To score 30,000 points in elite company — but to do all the other things he does shows he’s a complete all-around player and probably one of the best our game has seen as far as all-around passing, dribbling, powerful, shooting the basketball, scoring. Just a great player.”
“Listen, man. I can’t even talk about that,” he said. “Me and my mom was poor, I’ll tell you that, and they expected me to step foot on a college campus and not to go to the NBA? We weren’t going to be poor for long, I’ll tell you that.”
James would like to see the NBA expand the G-League into a farm system, an idea he wants to discuss with commissioner Adam Silver.
The Thunder opened the final quarter with a 10-2 run to lead 107-101 on Raymond Felton’s 3. Booker’s 14-footer at the shot-clock buzzer tied it at 110 with 4:48 remaining.
“I think we probably fatigued a little bit,” Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano said. “I don’t know if our guys are used to playing at that level for that long of a period of time, but that’s what we’ll get to.”