James needs 89 more points to eclipse Abdul-Jabbar's long-standing record
NEW YORK — LeBron James said on Tuesday it's only a "matter of time" before he passes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the greatest scorer in NBA history after edging closer to the long-standing NBA record.
James' 28-point triple-double in the Los Angeles Lakers' win over the New York Knicks means the 38-year-old superstar needs just 89 more points to eclipse Abdul-Jabbar's mark of 38,387.
At his current rate of scoring, James is on target to pass Abdul-Jabbar next Tuesday when the Lakers host the Oklahoma City Thunder.
James said on Tuesday, however, that the prospect of making NBA history is not weighing heavily on him as his date with destiny looms ever closer.
"No, it's not getting heavier, because I'm going to do it," James told reporters.
"I mean, it's just a matter of time when I'm going to do it.
"I'm not going anywhere — I'm going to be in this league for at least a few more years, so I'm going to do it.
"It's not heavy at all."
James, meanwhile, said he had not allowed himself to be distracted by chasing the scoring record as he concentrates on helping the Lakers try to claw their up the Western Conference standings.
"I didn't get to this point of my career by thinking about records or how many points I have," James said.
"I just try and play the game the right way. I approach the game every night by trying to be a triple threat — scoring, rebounding and assisting. So let the chips fall where they may.
"I think maybe when I get super-duper close (to the record) it might be in the back or the front of my mind.
"But I don't put that kind of pressure on myself. I just go out and play."
James, however, did allow himself a moment to reflect with pride on the fact that Tuesday saw him pass Steve Nash and Mark Jackson to move into fourth in the all-time NBA rankings for career assists.
"It's amazing. Because that's what I love to do — get my guys involved. Try to put the ball on time and on target through my career," James said.
"Any time you're linked with the greats, it's a super cool thing."
The 38-year-old passed two more milestones on Tuesday as he secured the third triple double of his career at Madison Square Garden.
James finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, moving him ahead of both Jackson and Nash.
James' first triple double of the 2022-2023 campaign also makes him the only player in history to score a triple-double in their 20th season.
The Lakers star was backed by Anthony Davis with 27 points and new signing Rui Hachimura, who finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Russell Westbrook added 17 points off the bench.
James had looked to have done enough to secure victory for the Lakers after draining a 25-foot three-pointer with 1 min 41 sec remaining in the fourth to put Los Angeles ahead by 114-108.
But Knicks ace Jalen Brunson, who finished with 37 points, led a late rally to force overtime at 114-114.
The experience of James, Davis and Westbrook proved too much for New York in overtime however.
A three-pointer from Dennis Schroder put Los Angeles up 121-118 with 3:14 remaining, and then a superb assist by Westbrook set up Davis for a dunk to make it 123-118.
Hachimura then came up with a huge defensive block to deny Brunson before a Westbrook layup put the Lakers seven points clear at 125-118 with just over a minute remaining, a lead which proved too much for the Knicks to overhaul.
In other games on Tuesday, Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points and 18 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks overpowered the Charlotte Hornets 125-115.
Khris Middleton added 18 off the bench while Jrue Holiday finished with 15 points as five Bucks players finished in double-digits.
Milwaukee improved to 34-17 with the win to remain in second place in the Eastern Conference. LaMelo Ball led the Charlotte scoring with 27 points.
In Cleveland, Jimmy Butler's 23 points helped the Miami Heat score a hard-fought 100-97 win over the Cavaliers.
A game that saw the lead change hands 11 times also ended with three Miami players — Caleb Martin, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro — on 18 points each.
Miami playmaker Donovan Mitchell was restricted to 16 points, making just six of 17 from the field. Evan Mobley led Cleveland's scoring with 19 points.
In Chicago, the Los Angeles Clippers improved to 29-25 to remain in fourth place in the Western Conference with a 108-103 win over the Bulls.
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers scoring with 33 points while Norman Powell added 27 off the bench.