LeBron James is closing in.
The Los Angeles Lakers star entered Tuesday needing 224 points to surpass Kareem-Abdul Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time scoring leader. He’s that much closer after a 46-point effort in a 133-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Even in a losing effort, James gave fans their money’s worth. In addition to that scoring output, he posted eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals, a block, zero turnovers and zero personal fouls in 32 minutes. He shot 9-of-14 from deep, a career high in 3-pointers made in a single game.
The final score wasn’t close, but James led a run in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 10 before the Clippers firmly took control back.
Breaking 40 points against the Clippers also completed James’ collection of 40-point games against all 30 NBA teams, an unprecedented feat. Three other players have scored 40 against 29 teams: Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kobe Bryant, who never played the Lakers.
LeBron James breaking NBA scoring record is just a matter of time
James isn’t pursuing the record on the late-stage fumes of his remarkable career. Far from it. His 29.8-point scoring average through 37 games would stand as the fourth-highest scoring rate of his 20 NBA seasons.
James averaged 20.9 points per game as a rookie and hasn’t dipped below that pace since. He’s on schedule to break Abdul-Jabbar’s record in 100-plus fewer games played than his fellow Lakers great. Abdul-Jabbar reached his tally of 38,387 points in 1,560 games. The Lakers game against the Clippers on Tuesday was the 1,404th of James’ career.
The pace has James on track to pass Abdul-Jabbar sometime in February. Here’s the upcoming slate of Lakers games as James pursues one of the last great milestones of his basketball career.
Feb. 15: vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN)