NEW YORK – LeBron James is on his way to Philadelphia, set to pass Kobe Bryant on the NBA’s career scoring list in the former Lakers star’s hometown.
It’ll be another milestone achievement, but scoring has never been the most important thing to James. He prefers winning, and it looks like he’ll do plenty more of that with these Lakers.
James had 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in his 10th triple-double of the season and Los Angeles made a season-high 19 3-pointers to pull away and beat the Brooklyn Nets 128-113 on Thursday night.
James closed within 17 points of Bryant for No. 3 with a flurry in the fourth quarter. He can pass Bryant on Saturday at Philadelphia, where the five-time champion was born.
“Any time I am linked with the greats or I am able to do something in my career where I’m mentioned with the greats is a pretty cool thing,” James said. “But as far as looking at the scoring, I don’t know. That doesn’t mean much to me.
“Just the overall point of my game is what means more to me: being an all-around player, being able to be successful on the floor and being able to contribute to the franchises that I played for, the three franchises I played for so far in my career.”
James has 33,626 points. Bryant finished with 33,643.
A back-and-forth game for nearly three quarters turned into a rout after the Lakers broke the Nets’ spirits with four straight 3-pointers spanning the third and fourth quarters, extending a one-point lead to 107-94, and Los Angeles coasted from there.
Anthony Davis had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Dwight Howard finished with 14 points and 12 boards in his first start of the season.
Kyrie Irving scored 20 points after missing a game with right hamstring tightness, but Brooklyn lost its fifth straight. The Nets have won just two of their last 14 games.
Brooklyn was without backup centers DeAndre Jordan and Nicolas Claxton, leaving the hosts without many options behind starter Jarrett Allen. But the Nets struggled just as badly guarding the perimeter. Los Angeles was 19 of 38 behind the arc, with Nets coach Kenny Atkinson saying his players were so worried about James that they left guys open outside.
“He started making shots and guys are just, they don’t want to see him score again and they help too much,” Atkinson said. “I would say there’s 10, 12 plays where we helped too much and you make one false step with a great passing team like them, they make you pay.”
The Lakers led 38-35 after one, before both teams made seven 3-pointers in the second. Howard went 4-for-4 for eight points in the period, helping the visitors take a 75-70 lead to halftime.
Danny Green made three 3s in the first four minutes of the third, pushing the lead to 88-75, but the Nets had it down to 95-94 after a 3-pointer by Irving with 49 seconds remaining. But then Davis and Rajon Rondo hit 3s before Jared Dudley, who played in Brooklyn last season, hit one from near the Nets’ bench to beat the buzzer and make it 104-94.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made it four straight 3s to open the fourth, extending the lead back to 13. James then scored eight in the period before taking a seat for good.
Wizards 124, Cavaliers 112
In Cleveland, Bradley Beal scored 36 points and weary Washington, overcoming an overtime loss and early-morning arrival in town, defeated the Cavaliers.
The Wizards started slowly after not getting in until around 4 a.m. following an OT defeat in Miami on Wednesday, but took over late in the first quarter and pulled away.
Cleveland has lost six in a row and 11 of 13. The Cavaliers were coming off a 20-point home loss to New York and struggled against Washington, which is also at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Beal was 15 of 22 from the field and had eight assists in 29 minutes.. The Wizards guard scored 38 points against Miami and is 31 of 46 from the field in the last two games.
Teammates Davis Bertans and Ish Smith each scored 17 points while Isaiah Thomas had 13.
Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 29 points, while Larry Nance Jr. had 22 and Kevin Love added 21.
Mavericks 133, Trail Blazers 125
In Portland, Luka Doncic scored 27 points to go with nine assists and six rebounds, and Dallas made 22 3-pointers to prevail over the hosts.
Doncic scored 20 of his points in the first half, and had plenty of help in the win. The Mavericks had six players make at least three 3-pointers, and it was the sixth time this season Dallas canned 20 3s, with Seth Curry and Jalen Brunson leading the way with four each.
The 43 combined 3-pointers made by the Mavericks and Trail Blazers tied an NBA record.
One game after scoring a career-high 61 points, Damian Lillard finished with 47 points for Portland in the loss. He became the first player in franchise history to score 100 points over two games.
Trevor Ariza, recently acquired in a trade from Sacramento, scored a season-high 21 in his Portland debut.