LeBron James proved he is still the master after leading the Los Angeles Lakers to victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, but he tipped the apprentice Zion Williamson "to get better and better".
It was the first career meeting between superstar James and exciting rookie Williamson, with the former dropping a season-high 40 points and adding eight rebounds as the Lakers triumphed 118-109 to make it six straight wins in the NBA.
Anthony Davis contributed 21 points despite only going 6-for-21 from the field, adding 14 rebounds and six blocks, while Alex Caruso was also influential for the Lakers.
Speaking after the game, James predicted Williamson – who landed 29 points for the Pelicans, second only to former Laker Brandon Ingram's 34 – will be a star for years to come.
"He's playing exceptional basketball," James said in quotes reported by ESPN.
"I think his game is going to get better and better, just having that experience. I think today's game is the perfect fit for his game.
"The high pace, the way they play, it fits his game. It works perfectly, and our game is so many possessions now, so much space, it's perfect for his game, so he's doing exceptionally well with that."
40-piece for the new season-high pic.twitter.com/c2sAIxO9iK— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 26, 2020
Davis, who moved to LA from New Orleans in July, echoed a similar message in his assessment of Williamson, saying: "He's a great player.
"He's got a quick first step. Very explosive. He's going to continue to get better and better as he goes on."
Williamson was injured for the Pelicans' first two encounters with the Lakers this season but has now scored 20-plus points in nine consecutive games.
The 19-year-old paid tribute to James' performance.
"It was a great experience," Williamson said. "He's an incredible player.
"His resume speaks for himself. He handled business. He came out here and did what he had to do to help his team get the win."
James also put up eight assists and provided several highlight-reel dunks. Asked to explain why he had so much success, the veteran said: "I was just reading the defense.
"They went under a lot of my pick-and-rolls; pretty much every team has done that this year, so I just try to make them pay.
"I was able to get a couple of threes going and then I was being aggressive the rest of the [third] quarter."Published 26 Feb 2020, 13:52 IST