ATLANTA — LeBron James scored a season-high 47 points on his 38th birthday with many of the sellout crowd at State Farm Arena cheering his every move, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks 130-121 on Friday night.
James, a four-time NBA MVP and an 18-time All-Star, finished with 10 rebounds and nine assists. He had 16 points in the second quarter, 13 in the third and 16 in the fourth. James began the game ranked ninth in scoring with a 27.8 average.
The Hawks (17-19) blew a 15-point lead but regained a 101-100 lead on Aaron Holiday’s 3-pointer with 10:50 remaining. James hit a 3 from the right wing to make it 103-101 and Los Angeles never trailed again. The Lakers (15-21) went up 108-105 on James’ straightaway 3, and the Hawks called timeout.
The Lakers had lost nine of their last 13 but led 120-113 on James’ three-point play with 2:18 to go. Much of the crowd came to its feet roaring as he drew John Collins’ sixth foul and fell down as he hit a baseline layup. He hit the free throw and came back on the next possession with a reverse layup on the baseline that drew the crowd to its feet again.
Los Angeles led 126-119 on Thomas Bryant’s layup with 55 seconds to go and was never threatened again. James ended it with a pair of free throws to make it 130-121 with the crowd chanting, “MVP! MVP!”
James’ previous season high was 39 points Nov. 26 at San Antonio.
James left the court after a TV interview and signed his jersey for rapper 2 Chainz before leaving the court to another standing ovation.