LOS ANGELES (AP) – LeBron James had a season-high 44 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, passing Wilt Chamberlain for fifth place on the NBA’s career scoring list and leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 126-117 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.
James scored 28 points in the second half and vaulted past Chamberlain on a three-point play with 3:55 to go, finishing the night with 31,425 points. James also fell just short of the 75th triple-double of his career during his most impressive performance since joining the Lakers in the offseason.
But while James delivered a dazzling performance, it wasn’t all good news for Los Angeles. Afterward, coach Luke Walton said Rajon Rondo broke his hand during the game. The veteran point guard will be sidelined for at least a few weeks.
James has moved from seventh to fifth on the career scoring list during his debut season with Los Angeles, passing Dirk Nowitzki and Chamberlain. Five of the top six scorers in NBA history suited up for the Lakers, and James reached his latest milestone during a dominant performance that had chants of “M-V-P!” raining down from the Staples Center crowd.
Before the Lakers embark on a three-game trip including his return to Cleveland on Nov. 21, James showed his new home fans what they can expect in big games, as if they didn’t already know. James scored 16 points in the third quarter and 12 in the fourth, never allowing Portland to make a final run during the Lakers’ fourth consecutive win.
Damian Lillard had 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds, and CJ McCollum scored 23 points in the Trail Blazers’ first road loss to the Lakers since Feb. 22, 2013, ending a nine-game streak at Staples. Portland has lost two straight to the Lakers after winning 16 in a row.
JaVale McGee scored 20 points and Brandon Ingram added 17 in the Lakers’ sixth win in seven games. After a slow start, Los Angeles (8-6) is already finding its groove in its first season with James and his fellow veterans joining the young core.
Portland hit nine 3-pointers in the first half and led by 13 midway through the second quarter, but James led a 27-10 run to a 59-55 halftime lead. James punctuated one of the most assertive stretches of his season with two long 3-pointers in the final 25 seconds, finishing the half with 16 points.
James hit his fifth 3 without a miss in the third quarter before Al-Farouq Aminu ended his perfect night from distance with a block.
Trail Blazers: Lillard played without restrictions after missing practice to rest his right knee. … Portland’s four-game winning streak ended, but the Blazers are still on top of the Northwest Division. … Jusuf Nurkic had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Aminu scored 18 points.
Lakers: The 6-foot-5 Josh Hart blocked a dunk attempt by the 7-foot Nurkic in the first quarter. … Michael Beasley didn’t play, but the veteran was back in uniform after missing several recent games for undisclosed personal reasons. He hasn’t played since Oct. 25.
The teams were meeting for the third time in four weeks already this season, a schedule quirk that didn’t particularly please either coach. The Blazers spoiled LeBron’s debut with the Lakers in a 128-119 win at Portland last month, but the Lakers replied by ending their 16-game skid in the rivalry by beating the Blazers 114-110 just 16 days later in the Moda Center. The clubs don’t have their final meeting until the regular-season finale at Staples Center on April 9.
Trail Blazers: At Minnesota on Friday night.
Lakers: At Orlando on Saturday night.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.