Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James will enter Saturday’s game at New Orleans needing 63 points to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s career scoring leader.
James scored 26 points in Thursday’s 112-111 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis to increase his career total to 38,325 points in 1,408 games over 20 seasons. Abdul-Jabbar scored 38,387 points in 1,560 games over 20 seasons.
James is seventh in the league in scoring, averaging 30.1 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.
James led all scorers with nine points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers overcame a 96-84 deficit entering the quarter.
James gave the Lakers their first lead when he made a 3-point basket with two minutes, 35 seconds to play. Indiana regained the lead 27 seconds later on Buddy Hield’s 3-point basket.
James committed an offensive foul on the Lakers’ next possession. After James missed a 9-foot turnaround shot and 3-point shot, the Lakers regained the lead when James made two free throws with 1:09 remaining.
The Pacers took a 111-110 lead on Andrew Nembhard’s basket with 49.3 seconds left. Anthony Davis gave the Lakers the lead for good by making an 11-foot turnaround fadeaway shot with 35.3 seconds to play.
On the ensuing possession, Davis blocked Tyrese Halliburton’s driving reverse layup with 16.5 seconds remaining and Laker guard Patrick Beverley grabbed the rebound. Beverley missed two free throws with 10.6 seconds left.
Hield missed a 16-foot jump shot with 1.9 seconds remaining and Davis grabbed the rebound to seal the victory.
Davis scored a game-high 31 points as the Lakers (25-28) moved into 12th in the 15-team Western Conference, percentage points ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and one game behind the New Orleans Pelicans in the race for the conference’s final spot in the play-in tournament.
Halliburton led Indiana (24-29) with 26 points, while Aaron Nesmith added 24 and Myles Turner scored 20.