LeBron James moved within 36 points of surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s career scoring leader Saturday evening, scoring 27 points in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 131-126 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans.

James increased his career total to 38,352 points in 1,409 games over 20 seasons. Abdul-Jabbar scored 38,387 points in 1,560 games over 20 seasons. He has held the record since 1984.

James is seventh in the league in scoring, averaging 30 points per game. If he maintains his average and does not miss a game, he would set the record Thursday at Crypto.com Arena against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers next play Tuesday, facing the Oklahoma City Thunder in their first game at Crypto.com Arena since Jan. 25.

James gave the Lakers what would be their biggest lead, 84-72, with a fast break layup with eight minutes, nine seconds left in the third quarter. Jose Alvarado scored five points and Jonas Valanciunas four during a 10-4 run that cut the Lakers’ lead to 94-90 with 2:40 remaining in the quarter.

The Lakers led 106-103 entering the fourth quarter. New Orleans took its first lead since the second quarter on a 3-point basket by Trey Murphy III with 9:34 to play in the fourth quarter. The Lakers would tie the score three times, the last at 120-120 with 4:20 left.

The Pelicans responded by outscoring the Lakers 7-1 on Brandon Ingram’s 7-foot driving floating shot, CJ McCollum’s 3-point basket and Ingram’s two free throws to take a 127-121 lead with 2:19 remaining and led by at least four for the remainder of the game.

Ingram scored a game-high 35, McCollum added 23 and Murphy 21 as New Orleans (27-27) ended a 10-game losing streak before a sellout crowd at Smoothie King Center announced at 18,886.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 34. Davis was acquired in a 2019 three-team trade that included sending Ingram to the Pelicans.

The loss dropped the Lakers (25-28) into 13th in the 15-team Western Conference, 2 games behind the Utah Jazz (27-27) and New Orleans in the race for the conference’s final spot in the play-in tournament. Utah are tied for ninth. The seventh- through 10th-place teams play in the play-in tournament.

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