NEW YORK — LeBron James moved within 89 points of breaking the NBA’s career scoring record and climbed into fourth place on the assists list, finishing with a triple-double in his return to Madison Square Garden as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the New York Knicks 129-123 on Tuesday night.
James had 28 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, with the points giving him 38,299 for his career. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the leader with 38,387.
But James’ game has always been about more than scoring, as he proved again Tuesday. He fed Dennis Schroder for a 3-pointer that snapped a 118-all tie with 3:13 remaining, grabbed his 10th rebound later in the extra period and then powered to the basket for a 127-121 lead with 19 seconds to go.
He had earlier moved ahead of Mark Jackson and then Steve Nash into fourth place on the assists list during his first game at Madison Square Garden in three years.
Anthony Davis added 27 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who had dropped two straight to open their trip. Both James and Davis had sat out their loss Monday in Brooklyn.
Jalen Brunson scored 37 points and Julius Randle had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks.
James’ 3-pointer with 1:41 remaining in regulation gave the Lakers a 114-108 lead, but he then missed two long jumpers that could’ve put away the game. The Knicks rallied to tie it at 114 on a basket by Brunson, who then stepped in to draw an offensive foul after James fed Davis near the basket. But Randle couldn’t get a shot off in time in the Knicks’ last possession, sending the Lakers to overtime for the second time in three games.
James sat out Monday with what coach Darvin Ham said was left foot soreness, though the Lakers had listed the injury as an ankle. They listed him as questionable to play in the morning, then upgraded James to available after he moved well during a pregame workout.
He certainly didn’t want to miss this one after being hurt two years ago and suspended last season for striking Detroit’s Isaiah Stewart in the face. His last game here was Jan. 22, 2000, when he was days away from passing Kobe Bryant into third place on the career scoring list.
Now the only one left to catch is Abdul-Jabbar, which could happen in the next 10 days.
The game was tied at 90 before James fed Troy Brown Jr. for a 3-pointer with his eighth assist, then set up Thomas Bryant for a dunk that moved him ahead of Jackson and then Nash into fourth place for assists. He has 10,338 assists.
James has already called MSG one of his favorite places to play and this visit draw a sellout crowd that included celebrities such as Michael J. Fox, Michael B. Jordan, Emma Stone and Chris Rock. Fans filled seats in the lower sections of the arena just to watch James warm up, but he struggled to give them one of his vintage performances once the game began.
He threw up an airball in the second quarter as part of his 2-for-8 start, but made his final two shots of the half, then threw a pass that Schroder heaved in from halfcourt to beat the buzzer and cut it to 53-52 at halftime.
Lakers: Patrick Beverley was out with left knee soreness. Ham said the guard has had some tough defensive matchups lately and they were just being careful in giving him a rest.
Knicks: Second-year G Quentin Grimes was chosen Tuesday to take part in the Rising Stars at All-Star weekend. … The Knicks missed 13 or their first 15 shots as the Lakers took a 15-5 lead.
Lakers: At Indiana on Thursday night.
Knicks: Host Miami on Friday night.