LOS ANGELES – LeBron James scored 13 points and threw two thunderous shots in a four-plus minute period to cut a 21-point lead down to 10 in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night.
“It was scary,” said Clippers star guard Paul George. “I’ve seen that look in Bron.”
This, however, was something the Clippers didn’t see from the Lakers superstar until Tuesday night. James added another historic feat to his storied career when he scored 46 points in the Lakers’ 133-115 loss to the Clippers, becoming the first player in NBA history to score 40 points against all 30 franchises.
“I wanted Bron to get 40 so he could have 40 against every team,” Clippers coach Ty Lue, who coached James in Cleveland, said with a laugh. “Nah. I mean, he was going.”
James sank a career-high nine 3-pointers and pulled within 178 points of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) for the all-time points record. But his night was bittersweet as the Clippers lost by 18 points.
“We’ll see when we get there,” James said of going over the former Lakers. “We’ll see, will he beat me? Just in the last few years, the last few years since we’ve won a championship, there’s just been a lot of success happening in a wasted effort.
“So it was very difficult to digest even some or all of the achievements because I don’t want to celebrate losses.”
George and Kawhi Leonard, however, celebrated James’ career after the two Clippers put pressure on James and the Lakers’ comeback attempt. James scored 15 in the quarter, but George and Leonard combined for a total of 52 points to hold off the Lakers.
Leonard and George scored or assisted on the Clippers’ next 12 points after cutting the lead to 10 to push it back to 19.
“It’s unbelievable,” said George of James. “I think the one thing that stands out is how long he’s been doing it. To be 38 years old [and score] 46 tonight. That’s great. To do it [for] 20 years, that’s what stands out the most but his longevity in his game and his availability. He has been available a lot throughout his career.
“The league is his. Stand up guy, yes [an] a great mentor, a leader in many of us young guys, and he’s great. It’s great that he’s going to be a scoring leader.”
Leonard said James was “inspiring.”
“I didn’t think about it too much until it got closer and closer,” said Leonard de James closing in on Abdul-Jabbar’s record. “I mean, [James is] one-on-one talent right there. You see it for yourself, the way he is playing at this age.
“Definitely inspiring for everyone, just to have that energy and that mindset to play that long and still want to go out and contribute to this effort.”