LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — The New Orleans Pelicans snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 131-121 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, even as Lakers superstar LeBron James crept closer to the NBA all-time scoring record.
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 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.
“I just want to win, play the game the right way and see what happens,” James said as coach Darvin Ham stressed the urgency of the Lakers’ situation.
“We’ve got to win these games,” Ham said. “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.
“The third is what killed us,” James said. “We gave them 42 in the third. Last possession we were up six with a chance to go up either eight or nine and then we turn the ball over.”
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.
– Curry limps out –
The Golden State Warriors held on for a 119-113 home victory over the Dallas Mavericks after superstar Stephen Curry limped out with a lower left leg injury in the third quarter.
The Warriors led all the way against a Mavs team without injured star Luka Doncic, but things tightened up after Curry banged knees with Dallas’ McKinley Wright and departed for the locker room.
Curry’s 21 points led the Warriors, whose 23-point lead was cut to five with 1:28 to play.
In Brooklyn, the 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” after saying he wanted out by next week’s 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 win of the season.
– Giannis triple double –
In Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a triple double of 35 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their seventh straight win, 123-115 over the Miami Heat.
Antetokounmpo’s third triple double of the season followed his 54-point outburst in a nail-biting 106-105 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.
Jimmy Butler scored 32 points for Miami, who were without injured Kyle Lowry and Victor Oladipo and had just nine available players.
In New York, Kawhi Leonard scored 35 points and Paul George added 30 for the Los Angeles Clippers, who lost a 17-point fourth-quarter lead but held on to beat the Knicks 134-128 in overtime.
Clippers wing Nicolas Batum drilled a three-pointer as time expired in regulation to knot the score at 115-115.
The Clippers scored the first four points of the extra session to regain the lead for good, withstanding a 41-point performance from Knicks guard Jalen Brunson.
Western Conference leaders Denver powered to a 128-108 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, propelled by a triple double of 14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists from two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player and 41 points from Jamal Murray.
© Agence France-Presse