Pelicans down Lakers as James moves 36 points from NBA scoring record

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The New Orleans Pelicans snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 131-121 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, Feb. 4, even as Lakers superstar LeBron James crept closer to the NBA all-time scoring record.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks against Jose Alvarado and Naji Marshall of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at the Smoothie King Center on February 04, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (AFP)

Brandon Ingram shook off a scoreless first quarter to lead the Pelicans with 35 points. CJ McCollum added 23 and Trey Murphy added 21 as New Orleans turned the tide against a Lakers team that scored 72 points in the first half and led by 12 midway through the third quarter.

James scored 27 points and now needs 36 to overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record of 38,387.

He's averaging more than 30 points per game this season, and could well achieve the summit next week when the Lakers host Oklahoma City on Tuesday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

But even with history beckoning the Lakers remain in dire need of victories, and missed a chance to gain on the Pelicans as they both chase a spot in the play-in tournament.

"We've got to win these games," said Lakers coach Darvin Ham. "We had full control of the game."

Lakers star Anthony Davis scored 34 points against his former team and the Pelicans trailed by eight late in the third quarter when McCollum drove for a basket. New Orleans stole an inbounds pass and Jose Alvarado made a three-pointer to pull the Pels within three heading into the fourth.

"It's tough," Ham said. "Their push was basically all energy. That one (third) quarter gave them life."

Midway through the fourth, Murphy connected on back-to-back three-pointers as New Orleans took a six-point lead on the way to their first win since January 13.

The Brooklyn Nets shook off uncertainty sparked by Kyrie Irving's bombshell trade request to rally from a 23-point deficit and beat the Washington Wizards 125-123.

The Nets, still without injured star Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and T.J. Warren also made do without Irving, who was sidelined by "right calf soreness" a day after saying he wanted out by next weeks' trade deadline.

Kristaps Porzingis led the Wizards with 38 points before fouling out. Washington had wasted no time in taking control, building a 23-point lead in the first half.

But with a career-high 44 points from reserve Cam Thomas, and 29 from Edmond Sumner the Nets managed to pull off their biggest comeback victory of the season.