NEW ORLEANS — LeBron James moved 36 points away from breaking the NBA career scoring record in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 131-126 loss to New Orleans on Saturday night that ended the Pelicans’ losing streak at 10 games.
James had 27 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists as he continued to close in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record total of 38,387 points.
Fans cheered for James during introductions and often cheered when he scored, particularly after his end-to-end transition dunk in the third quarter. In the fourth, when James tried to save a ball from going out of bounds and fell across the first couple of rows of spectators, fans patted him on the back supportively as he lay across them and helped him up.
Brandon Ingram scored 35 points for the Pelicans.
CJ McCollum had 23 points, highlighted by a late 3 to help New Orleans close out the final 3:14 on a 9-5 run that kept the Lakers at bay.
Anthony Davis had 34 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers. They led by 12 when James’ finger roll made it 84-72 in the third quarter.
The Pelicans chipped away and closed the period with five quick points on McCollum’s transition floater and Jose Alvarado’s 3 after he caught a deflected inbound pass.
That sequence cut the Lakers’ advantage to 106-103, and New Orleans surged into the lead when Trey Murphy hit back-to-back 3s, the second from 27 feet, to make it 114-108.
The game remained tight after that, but the Pelicans didn’t allow Los Angeles to regain the lead.
Murphy finished with 21 points and Alvarado had 18.
Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans but left late in the third quarter with a right knee injury and did not return.
Davis scored 18 of his points in the first half, when the Lakers shot 55.1%, including 6 of 15 from deep, and opened up a double-digit lead.
The Pelicans briefly closed to 61-56 when Ingram, who had 16 first-half points, hit a driving floater off the glass while being fouled by Troy Brown Jr.
The Lakers then closed the second quarter on an 11-5 run. James and Westbrook each hit layups during the stint. Davis added a turnaround hook and Schroder’s 3 than went down after a high bounce off the back rim in the final seconds, giving Los Angeles a 72-61 lead at the break.