James masterpiece in vain as Clippers sink Lakers

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half at Crypto.com Arena on January 16, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by RONALD MARTINEZ / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

LeBron James took another stride towards the NBA’s all-time scoring record with a dazzling 46-point performance but could not stop the Los Angeles Lakers falling to a 133-115 blowout against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old basketball icon rolled back the years with the latest in a string of virtuoso performances, draining a career-best nine three-pointers in what was ultimately a futile effort against a Clippers side led by Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

James left the court immediately after the Clippers completed a wire-to-wire victory that saw them lead by as much as 23 points at half-time.

James threatened to inspire a fourth-quarter comeback to get the Lakers within 10 points but the Clippers regrouped around George and Leonard and pulled away.

The only consolation for James was that he is now within touching distance of surpassing Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time points scorer.

James needs another 178 points to eclipse Abdul-Jabbar’s tally of 38,387 points, one of the most coveted and longstanding records in basketball.

On current form, James is on track to break the record sometime in the next fortnight.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham admitted his team was not giving James the support his blistering form deserved.

“I’m happy for him, but we’ve got to get better,” Ham said. “We’ve got to give some help in other areas.

“He’s playing at an unbelievable level right now – it’s amazing to be able to watch. But having said that, we want to win games. So everyone can do something a little bit better — myself and my staff included.”

The Lakers fell to 22-26 and are 13th in the Western Conference standings while the Clippers improved to 26-24 to move to fifth.

George led the Clippers scoring with 27 points while Leonard added 25 and Norman Powell 22.

At Madison Square Garden meanwhile, a 36-point performance from Julius Randle helped the New York Knicks to a 105-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen scored 24 points each for the Cavs, but the Knicks dug in for a win that keeps them firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, one win adrift of Miami.

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