“It was scary,” Clippers star guard Paul George said. “I’ve seen that look in Bron.”
This, though, was something the Clippers had not seen from the Lakers superstar until Tuesday night. James added another historic feat to his storied career when he scored 46 points in a 133-115 Lakers 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 had it going.”
James buried 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 because it came in an 18-point loss to the Clippers.
“We’ll see when we get there,” James said of surpassing the former Lakers great. “We’ll see what, will it hit me? Just over the last few years, the last couple years since we won a championship, just a lot of accomplishments have been happening in a losing effort.
“So, it’s been very kind of difficult to kind of even digest some or all the accomplishments because I don’t want to celebrate on losses.”
George and Kawhi Leonard, though, celebrated James’ career after the Clippers duo was forced to stave off James and the Lakers’ comeback effort. James scored 15 in the fourth, but George and Leonard combined for 52 points overall to hold off the Lakers.
Leonard and George scored or assisted on the Clippers’ next 12 points after their lead had been cut to 10 to push it back up to 19.
“It’s just incredible,” George said of James. “I think the one thing that sticks out is just how long he’s been doing it. To be 38 [and score] 46 tonight. That is super impressive. To do it [for] 20 years, that’s what stands out the most is just his longevity in his game and to be available. He’s pretty much been available throughout his whole career.
“The league is his. Stand-up guy, been [an] amazing mentor, leader to a lot of us young guys, and he’s been awesome. It’s great that he’ll be the scoring leader.”
Leonard said James has been “inspirational.”
“I didn’t think of it too much until he’s gotten closer and closer,” Leonard said of James closing in on Abdul-Jabbar’s record. “I mean, [James is] one-of-one talent right there. You see it for yourself, the way he’s playing at this age.
“Definitely inspirational for everyone, just to sustain that energy and that mindset to play that long and still wanting to go out and contribute with this effort.”