LOS ANGELES (AP)LeBron James became the NBA’s career scoring leader on a stepback jumper late in the third quarter, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record during his 38-point performance in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 133-130 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.
James surpassed the mark held since April 1984 by Abdul-Jabbar, who watched the game from a baseline seat near the Lakers’ bench. Abdul-Jabbar then joined a clearly emotional James and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on the court after the historic basket.
James’ mother, wife and children also watched from courtside amid a celebrity-studded crowd that rose in waves of anticipation nearly every time he touched the ball.
James didn’t let them down: He scored 20 points in the first half with a full showcase of the offensive talent that still shines blindingly after two decades in the NBA, and he tore through the record in a 16-point third quarter capped by that pretty jumper.
The game was stopped for about 10 minutes while James hugged his family and participated in a brief ceremony with Silver and Abdul-Jabbar.
“I just want to say thank you to the Laker faithful,” James said. “You guys are one of a kind. To be able to be in the presence of such a legend as great as Kareem, it’s very humbling.”
James’ latest moment of NBA history came at an important time for the Lakers, who are struggling to gain any ground as they attempt to avoid the humiliation of missing the playoffs for a second straight season. And while James hit his mark, the Lakers took another discouraging loss.
Anthony Davis managed just 13 points, and the Thunder never trailed in the second half. James scored only two points in the fourth quarter, putting him atop the career scoring list with 38,390 points – three ahead of Abdul-Jabbar.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30 points and Jalen Williams had 25 for the Thunder, who moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the 13th-place Lakers near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
The young Thunder appeared to feed off the energy created by James’ momentous night, even if they couldn’t guard him much. Oklahoma City jumped to a 15-point lead in the first half and hit nearly 60% of its shots.
Thunder: Josh Giddey had 20 points. … One-time Lakers forward Mike Muscala scored 16 points.
Lakers: Austin Reaves returned from a 16-game absence with a hamstring injury and played seven scoreless minutes. … Russell Westbrook had 27 points and eight assists.
Thunder: At Portland on Friday.
Lakers: Host Milwaukee on Thursday.
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