LeBron James is not likely to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA career scoring record when he and the Los Angeles Lakers visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.
But he can help the Lakers finish their five-game road trip with a winning record and tie the fading Pelicans in the tightly bunched Western Conference standings.
James needs 63 points to break Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387 points. His career single-game best is 61 points vs. Charlotte in 2014, when he played for Miami.
“It’s one of the greatest records in sports, in general,” James said. “It’s like the home run record in baseball. It’s one of those records that you don’t ever see or think will be broken.”
James is most likely to break the record next week. The Lakers return home after Saturday’s game to host Oklahoma City on Tuesday and Milwaukee on Thursday.
James moved 26 points closer to the record as he led a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback in a 112-111 victory at Indiana on Thursday. He added seven rebounds and seven assists.
Los Angeles trailed for most of the game and faced a 14-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.
“My game was needed more on the interior tonight,” James said. “I needed to get some rebounds, I needed to get some baskets in there.”
But it was James’ 3-pointer that gave the Lakers their first lead of the game with 2:35 remaining. He added two free throws and Anthony Davis, who finished with 31 points and 14 rebounds, made a winning jumper with 35.1 seconds left.
The Pelicans lost their 10th consecutive game when they finished a 0-3 road trip with a 111-106 loss at Dallas on Thursday. They trailed by as many as 31 points before Mavericks star Luke Doncic left the game for good midway through the third quarter because of a bruised right heel.
New Orleans outscored Dallas 52-30 after Doncic’s departure, but never pulled even.
“We caught our second wind,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “The guys got knocked on their heels to start the game. It’s unacceptable those things are happening. I take full ownership. I have to be better. I have to get us off to great starts by having our team prepared.”
Pelicans star Brandon Ingram had by far his best game among the four he has played since returning from a 29-game absence due to a bruised toe. He scored a team-high 26 points and made 10 of 21 field-goal attempts.
“He looked like the Brandon we’re all accustomed to seeing night in and night out,” Green said. “It was good to see him get his rhythm going. He was attacking, rebounding the ball, and making good decisions with the basketball.”
New Orleans, which hasn’t won since Jan. 13, is beginning a four-game homestand.
“We have plenty of games left to turn it around,” Green said. “We’ve dug ourselves a hole. We have to climb out of it.”
The Lakers won their first meeting this season with the Pelicans, taking a 120-117 decision in overtime Nov. 2 at Los Angeles. The teams will meet twice more after Saturday — Feb. 15 at Los Angeles and March 14 at New Orleans.
— Field Level Media