Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James insists he often practices 36-foot 3s

LOS ANGELES — LeBron James prides himself on making the right basketball play.

The Lakers’ star insisted that applies even when he hoisted a 36-footer in a 120-107 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday at Staples Center.

“My teammates see me work on it a lot,” James said. “I know I put the work in it. I don’t take no shots that I don’t work on. I’ve never done it in my career.”

James did not always take such shots during his 17-year NBA career. Then, the modern game increasingly put more importance on 3-point shooting. James faced the Golden State Warriors in four consecutive NBA Finals appearances during which Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson made 3-pointers from almost any distance.

So when the Sixers declined to pick him up at halfcourt to open the second half, James decided to do the same thing. He pulled up on the “R” of the Lakers’ logo. Then, he fired the ball from 36 feet away with 18 seconds left on the shot clock.

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“We kind of know when he’s going to do it,” Lakers forward Anthony Davis said.  “I was expecting him to throw it to me and he just put it up.”

So shortly afterward, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Danny Green hovered over the Lakers’ logo and studied where James took the long 3-pointer. James learned about the gesture afterward in the locker room, and shared his amusement with Davis at his near-by locker.

“I trust my mechanics and I’m able to let it fly with confidence no matter what is going on in the shot clock,” James said. “Obviously, the game is played so much at the 3-point line and beyond. Personally, I want to continue to have a growth mindset with however the game is changing, being able to change my game while also still being true to who I am at the same time and not have any weaknesses.”

It is hard to find any weaknesses in James’ game. He had 22 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 34 minutes against the Sixers. He has led the NBA this season in assists (10.7) and is tied for first with Dallas’ Luca Doncic in triple doubles (13). He just recorded his 50th game where he had at least 20 points, 10 assists and two blocks, which is an NBA record.

But is it a weakness for James to shoot from so far out early in the shot clock?

“When it goes in, it’s a good one. And if it doesn’t go in, it’s a bad one,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel quipped. “It’s easy coaching here.”

It’s hardly easy what James just did. He insisted he occasionally shoots from deep because “it just happens.” Even if deviates from James’ normal tendency to throw a lob to Davis or set up an open role player, the Lakers like when he goes off script.

“I’m very confident,” Davis said. “He’s made plenty of those against me.”

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