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LeBron breaks 39,000-point barrier; Lakers advance

ADAM PANTOZZI/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE LEBRON James reaches a scoring milestone in leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 131-99 victory over the Utah Jazz in the NBA in-season tournament.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — LeBron James claimed another piece of National Basketball Association history on Tuesday, becoming the first player to break the 39,000-point barrier as the Los Angeles Lakers routed the Utah Jazz to reach the knockout stage of the league’s new in-season tournament.

The 38-year-old, needing just five points to reach the milestone heading into the game, etched his name into the record books with a three-pointer in the first quarter of a 131-99 Lakers win.

James, who passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar last season to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, saluted the crowd as his achievement was announced.

“I haven’t really had an opportunity to wrap my head around what it means,” James said of his latest scoring milestone.

“There’s been so many great players in this league since the beginning of time, and so many great scorers.”

“To be able to be the first of anything is always pretty cool. A wild moment, for sure.”

James’ landmark set the mood for a celebratory occasion at the Arena as the Lakers went on to score a wire-to-wire win and reach the in-season tournament’s quarter-finals.

James finished with 17 points from 6-of-10 shooting, while Anthony Davis led the Lakers scorers with 26 points, 16 rebounds and four assists.

Elsewhere, Kevin Durant also passed a scoring milestone, moving up to 11th place on the NBA’s career scoring list in Phoenix’s 120-107 drubbing of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Durant needed 14 points to overtake Elvin Hayes on the scoring charts, and duly knocked them down in a free-scoring first quarter. Durant finished with 31 points to lead the Phoenix scoring, taking his career tally to 27,331 points.

The Indiana Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks, 157-152, in a rollicking shootout to also reach the knockout stages.

Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton, who said this week the new tournament gave “more juice” to early season games, scored 22 of his 37 points in the third quarter as the Pacers erased a 20-point first-half deficit.

In the fourth quarter it was Buddy Hield who stepped up, scoring 13 of his 24 points as the Pacers came out on top of a furious back-and-forth finish.

“It’s good to clinch,” Haliburton, who also handed out 16 assists, said after the Pacers improved to 3-0 in tournament play and locked up first place in East’s Group A.

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