NEW YORK: LeBron James scored a 28-point triple-double as the Los Angeles Lakers dug deep to score a 129-123 overtime win against the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
James is now just 89 points away from surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading points scorer after another superb performance in his 20th season.
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 Mark Jackson and Steve Nash into fourth on the all-time rankings for assists.
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.
“We played good ball throughout 48 minutes tonight,” James said afterwards.
“We were in tune with the game plan throughout 48 minutes and we did a good job of executing offensively and defensively.”
James, meanwhile, insisted he was not burdened by chasing down Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record — stating bluntly that it was only a “matter of time” before he passed the mark of 38,387 points.
“No, it’s not getting heavier because I’m going to do it,” James said.
“I mean, it’s just a matter of time when I’m going to do it.”
James had looked to have done enough to secure victory for the Lakers after draining a 25-foot three-pointer with 1min 41sec 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 Denver, Jamal Murray poured in 32 points and Nikola Jokic added 26 as the Western Conference-leading Nuggets sent the slumping New Orleans Pelicans crashing to their ninth straight defeat.
The Nuggets improved to 35-16 following their 122-113 win.
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.