LeBron James will soon be the NBA’s top scorer, though that was never his focus.
He’s also one of the game’s leading passers, and combining the two — possibly better than anyone ever — is what really makes him proud.
“I didn’t get to this point in my career by thinking about records or how many points I have, whatever the case might be,” James said. “I just play the game the right way. I approach the game every night only trying to be a triple threat by scoring, rebounding, assisting, defending, and may the chips fall where they may.”
James moved within 89 points of breaking the career scoring record and climbed into fourth place on the assists list, finishing with his first triple-double of the season in his return to Madison Square Garden as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 129-123 in overtime Tuesday night.
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James had 28 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, with the points giving him 38,299 for his career. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the leader with 38,387.
But James’ game has always been about more than scoring, as he proved again Tuesday.
He fed Dennis Schroder for a 3-pointer that snapped a 118-all tie with 3:13 left, grabbed his 10th rebound later in the extra period and then powered to the basket for a 127-121 lead with 19 seconds to go.
“He’s just doing it all,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “That’s what great players do. That’s what all-time greats do, and he’s right up there at the top of the list with all of them.”
James had earlier moved ahead of Mark Jackson and then Steve Nash into fourth place on the assists list during his first game at Madison Square Garden in three years.
Anthony Davis added 27 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who had dropped two consecutive to open their trip. Both James and Davis had sat out their loss Monday in Brooklyn.
Jalen Brunson scored 37 points and Julius Randle had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who were 7 for 34 from 3-point range and dropped their second straight.
“We’re scoring plenty, that’s not our issue,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So we’ve got to shore up our defense.”
James was fuming following his last game, the’ Lakers loss in overtime in Boston on Saturday, after which referees said they missed a foul on his drive to the basket to end regulation.
He then sat out Monday with what Ham said was left foot soreness, though the Lakers had listed the injury as an ankle. They listed him as questionable to play in the morning, then upgraded James to available after he moved well during a pregame workout.
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