NEW ORLEANS (AP) — 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.
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 role 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.
Lakers: Went 2-3 during their five-game road trip that concluded in New Orleans and came in 12-16 on the road overall. … Westbrook played after being listed as questionable with an illness earlier in the day. … Davis was playing in his third straight game and for the fifth time in six games since missing 20 games with a right foot injury. He reached 20 points for the 26th time in 30 games played this season and 30 points for the 11th time.
Pelicans: Larry Nance Jr. had 10 points and nine rebounds. … Have given up at least 70 first-half points in two straight. … After McCollum made the Pelicans’ first 3-point attempt of the game, New Orleans missed 11 straight from deep before Nance hit one in the final half-minute of the first half. … Shot 52% (52 of 100) for the game and finishing at 9 of 30 from deep.
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 rows of spectators, fans patted him on the back supportively as he lay across them and helped him up.
Lakers: Host Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.
Pelicans: Host Sacramento on Sunday night.