LeBron closes on NBA scoring record
NEW ORLEANS (AP):
When LeBron James was pulling up his dribble to float an alley-oop pass to Anthony Davis, or diving into the stands in an attempt to regain the ball for the Lakers, he appeared far more concerned with immediate team goals than making NBA history.
Yet, after nearly 40 minutes on the court, James couldn't stop Los Angeles from losing ground in the standings, even as he gained on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's scoring mark.
James moved 36 points away from breaking the NBA career scoring record in the Lakers' 131-126 loss to New Orleans on Saturday night that ended the Pelicans' losing streak at 10 games.
"I just want to win," James said. "You know, you play the game the right way and see what happens."
James had 27 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists as he continued to close in on Abdul-Jabbar's record total of 38,387 points.
"I'm tired as hell," James said, but added, "I'll be ready to go on Tuesday," when the Lakers play next.
Brandon Ingram had his best game since returning 10 days earlier from a nearly two-month injury absence, scoring 35 points for the Pelicans on an array of drives and jumpers, sometimes in heavy traffic as he was fouled.
CJ McCollum had 23 points, highlighted by a late three-pointer to help New Orleans close out the final 3:14 on a 9-5 run that kept the Lakers at bay.
"We just continued to attack across the board," said Pelicans coach Willie Green, whose team won for just the fourth time in 19 games. "Every guy on our team that touched the floor came in and played with force and played with confidence. That is what it is going to take for us to get over the hump."
Davis had 34 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers. They led by 12 when James' finger roll made it 84-72 in the third quarter.
The Pelicans chipped away and closed the period with five quick points on McCollum's transition floater and Jose Alvarado's three ,after he caught a deflected inbound pass.
That sequence cut the Lakers' advantage to 106-103, and New Orleans surged in front when Trey Murphy hit back-to-back threes, the second from 27 feet, to make it 114-108.
The game remained tight thereafter, but the Pelicans didn't allow Los Angeles to regain the lead.
Murphy finished with 21 points and Alvarado 18.
Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans, but left late in the third quarter with a right-knee injury and did not return.
Russell Westbrook scored 15 points, but did not play during the final 11 minutes.
James said trade deadline rumours should not distract the Lakers from what they need to do to win games.
"It shouldn't be an issue. The trade deadline happens every single year," James said. "You go out and focus, no matter what happens. You're still a professional."