LeBron James becomes first player in NBA history to score 40,000 points

LeBron James became the first NBA player to reach 40,000 career regular-season points on Saturday, the 39-year-old superstar scoring nine against defending champion Denver to achieve the milestone.

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But the historic effort came in a losing cause as Nikola Jokic scored 35 points to rally the Nuggets late for a 124-114 victory over the Lakers, stretching their win streak to six games.

“I’m glad we’re playing good,” Jokic said. “We’re doing the things we want to do. We don’t have too many breakdowns. I just like how we’re playing the game right now.”

James, who just over a year ago overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s all-time scoring mark, is a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player as well as the league’s oldest active player, now in his 21st campaign.

“Just happy for him. It was a hell of an accomplishment,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “Wish we could have got the win to cap it off.

“But my hat’s off to him. Amazing, amazing run that continues to this day. And you know, everyone in our program, everyone within our organization, is extremely excited and happy for him.”

After scoring five points in the first quarter, James sank a layup 14 seconds into the second quarter to pull within two of the milestone, then missed a free throw and on the next Laker possession missed a 3-point shot.

James scored the historic basket with 10:39 remaining in the second quarter, banking in a driving layup from the left side of the basket to give the Lakers a 37-32 lead.

The crowd gave James a standing ovation after he made the basket. The ball James used to score the milestone hoop was removed from the game, but with the replacement he added a layup late in the period on the way to the Lakers seizing a 66-58 half-time lead.

James scored his first basket of the game on a fast break layup 6:20 into the opening quarter to give the Lakers an 18-12 edge, then added a 3-pointer from the left corner 63 seconds later for a 23-14 advantage.

In anticipation of reaching the milestone, James said it won’t rank among his greatest feats but the 40,000-point mark is meaningful.

“No one has done it. And for me to be in this position at this point and time in my career, I think it’s pretty cool,” James said.

“Is it one of the top things I’ve done in my career? No. Does it mean something? Of course. Why wouldn’t it?

“To hit feats and have milestones throughout my career, they all mean something to me. Absolutely.

“Obviously, there’s a pecking order of which ones are higher than others, but I would be lying to you if I said no, it doesn’t mean anything. It absolutely does.”

Porter ‘was amazing’

The Nuggets equalized at 89-89 entering the fourth quarter and seized command with a 9-0 run in the final minutes to lead 117-110, Denver hitting 15-of-22 from the floor in the final quarter.

“They had control the first half,” Jokic said. “They had a really good energy. We didn’t play really good in the first half. They were getting to the paint. They were having open looks.

“We kind of were battling a little bit in the second half and we scored 124, which is a lot, but I’m just glad we won the game.”

Michael Porter Jr. went 10-for-10 from the floor and scored 25 points while matching Jokic’s 10 rebounds.

“He was amazing,” Jokic said. “It’s always a good thing when you have a guy on your team that can shoot like that.”

The Lakers, 33-29, rank 10th in the Western Conference, the final play-in spot, while the Nuggets are 42-19, third in the West but only a half-game behind leading Minnesota.

In other games, Mikal Bridges scored 38 points to lead host Brooklyn over Atlanta 114-102 while Jimmy Butler netted 37 points to power the Miami Heat over visiting Utah 126-120.

Anfernee Simons hit 30 points to lead Portland’s 107-100 overtime triumph at Memphis.

(AFP)

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