LeBron James lit up Staples Center, doing everything for the Los Angeles Lakers in their 126-117 win over the Portland Trailblazers.
It was a historic night for James as he passed Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the all-time NBA scoring list midway through the fourth quarter with 39 points. James now sits 867 points behind Michael Jordan for fourth and 2,218 points behind Lakers legend Kobe Bryant who is in third.
“When I’m able to do what I love to do, do it at this level, even being mentioned with the greats who have played this game – it just always brings me back to my home town of Akron,” James told ESPN after the game. “And knowing where I’ve come from, knowing how hard it was to get to this point, it’s just never being in satisfied mode.
James finished the game with 44 points – the first Lakers player to surpass the 40-point mark since D’Angelo Russell in 2017 – and nearly had a triple-double on the night with nine assists and 10 rebounds.
The all-time great started off hot from beyond the arc, making his first five 3-pointers. His sixth attempt was blocked by Portland’s Al-Farouq Aminu late in the third quarter.
But James had his own highlight block block to layup sequence.
It was in the third quarter when James really took over. He had 16 of the team’s 38 points to help the Lakers build on their halftime lead. They extended their lead from four to eight heading into the last 12 minutes.
James would sit out the beginning of the fourth before re-entering with seven minutes left. He took a hard foul to the head a few minutes later, but even that couldn’t stop him from grabbing his moment.
He made all eight of his fourth-quarter free throws, including the two from the flagrant foul on Portland’s C.J. McCollum. With under four minutes left, James tied and then passed Chamberlain after making an and-1 basket and the following free throw.
“I give it all to the man above for giving me these God-given abilities. I’m taking full advantage of them. And then my coaching staff and my teammates throughout these 16 years so far that’s gotten me to this point.”
The crowd appreciated his effort and the history that was made, giving James a standing ovation as the game ended.
After the game, James said that the game ball and they jersey he wore would go to “I Promise”, his recently opened school in Akron.
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