LeBron James claimed another piece of NBA history on Tuesday, becoming the first player to break the 39,000-point barrier as the Los Angeles Lakers routed the Utah Jazz to reach the knockout stage of the league’s new in-season tournament.
The 38-year-old, needing just five points to reach the milestone heading into the game, etched his name into the record books with a three-pointer in the first quarter of a 131-99 Lakers win.
James, who passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar last season to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, saluted the crowd as his achievement was announced.
“I haven’t really had an opportunity to wrap my head around what it means,” James said of his latest scoring milestone.
“There’s been so many great players in this league since the beginning of time, and so many great scorers.
“To be able to be the first of anything is always pretty cool. A wild moment, for sure.”
James’ landmark set the mood for a celebratory occasion at the Crypto.com Arena as the Lakers went on to score a wire-to-wire win and reach the in-season tournament’s quarter-finals.
James finished with 17 points from 6-of-10 shooting, while Anthony Davis led the Lakers scorers with 26 points, 16 rebounds and four assists.
Elsewhere, Kevin Durant also passed a scoring milestone, moving up to 11th place on the NBA’s career scoring list in Phoenix’s 120-107 drubbing of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Durant needed 14 points to overtake Elvin Hayes on the scoring charts, and duly knocked them down in a free-scoring first quarter. Durant finished with 31 points to lead the Phoenix scoring, taking his career tally to 27,331 points.
The Indiana Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks 157-152 in a rollicking shootout to also reach the knockout stages.
Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton, who said this week the new tournament gave “more juice” to early season games, scored 22 of his 37 points in the third quarter as the Pacers erased a 20-point first-half deficit.
In the fourth quarter it was Buddy Hield who stepped up, scoring 13 of his 24 points as the Pacers came out on top of a furious back-and-forth finish.
“It’s good to clinch,” Haliburton — who also handed out 16 assists — said after the Pacers improved to 3-0 in tournament play and locked up first place in East’s Group A.
“Buddy won us the game down the stretch, a lot of big buckets.”
Hield’s three-pointer put Indiana up 152-150 with 1:20 remaining. After Saddiq Bey pulled Atlanta level with a layup, Hield drained another three-pointer for a 155-152 Pacers lead with less than a minute to go.
Hield capped the outrageous scoring with an alley-oop dunk with five-tenths of a second remaining.
Hield connected on nine of 11 from the field and made all six of his three-point attempts.
Obi Toppin scored 21 points off the bench for Indiana and Bennedict Mathurin added 19.
Trae Young scored 38 points to lead the Hawks, who led by 20 in the second quarter.
The quarter-finals will be played December 4-5, with winners advancing to semi-final games on December 7 and a championship match on December 9 in Las Vegas.
It was a tight finish in Philadelphia, where Darius Garland scored 32 points to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 122-119 overtime victory over the 76ers.
It kept alive the Cavs’ hopes of advancing in the tournament via a wild card berth.
Jarrett Allen scored 26 points and pulled down 13 rebounds while Max Strus made five three-pointers on the way to 20 points for the Cavs, who came through despite again playing without injured Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid scored 32 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Tyrese Maxey added 30 points for Philadelphia, but the 76ers were eliminated from tournament contention.
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