LeBron James reaches 40,000 points but Nikola Jokic, Nuggets spoil Lakers star’s historic night

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LeBron James made history on Saturday against the Nuggets.

One year removed from surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, James reached a new milestone. The 20-time All-Star only needed nine points against Denver to become the first player in NBA history to register 40,000 career points.

James didn’t take much time to crack that threshold, scoring his record-setting ninth point early in the second quarter.

It had been over 17 years (!) since James scored fewer than 10 points in a game, so The King was all but certain to rewrite the record books against the defending champion Nuggets at Crypto.com Arena.

He finished with a team-high 26 points, but the Lakers couldn’t hold on to win on James’ historic night. Nikola Jokic erupted for 35 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, commanding the paint to lead Denver to a second-half comeback victory.

If you missed any of the action from James’ pursuit of 40,000 points, The Sporting News had you covered with live updates, highlights and more below.

MORE: What to know about LeBron James’ 40K-point scoring record

Lakers vs. Nuggets final score

  Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Lakers 33 33 23 25 114
Nuggets 27 31 31 35 124

LeBron James stats vs. Nuggets

26 PTS (12-20 FG; 2-5 3PT), 9 AST, 4 REB, 3 STL in 37 minutes.

How many points does LeBron James need to reach 40,000 points?

LeBron James has become the first player in NBA history to reach 40,000 points.

His milestone bucket came on a beautiful drive, spin and finish with his left hand in traffic during the second quarter.

LeBron James stats, highlights from historic 40,000-point milestone

All times Eastern.

Final: Nuggets 124, Lakers 114

10:50 p.m.: The Nuggets completed a second-half comeback to come away with a win over the Lakers.

Nikola Jokic dominated with 35 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Michael Porter Jr. finished a perfect 10-for-10 from the field for 25 points, while Jamal Murray registered a double-double with 24 points and 11 assists.

LeBron James finished as the Lakers’ leading scorer with 26 points but Los Angeles couldn’t hold onto its lead. Anthony Davis was quiet with just 17 points, and head coach Darvin Ham’s game plan to put Rui Hachimura on Jokic failed once again.

Denver has swept the season series against the Lakers, 3-0.

10:43 p.m.: Nikola Jokic has put the dagger in the Lakers with a sweet alley-oop to Aaron Gordon for an and-one dunk. All of a sudden, the Nuggets’ lead is up to 124-114 with 31 seconds remaining.

10:40 p.m.: The Lakers cannot stop the Nuggets. Denver has scored on six consecutive possessions to take a commanding 119-112 lead with 1:34 remaining. All of a sudden, the Lakers are behind the 8-ball.

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10:36 p.m.: Austin Reaves buries a midrange jumper. Justin Holiday buries a 3. LeBron James gets a layup. Aaron Gordon responds with a go-ahead 3. Shots are falling everywhere as the Nuggets take a 111-110 lead with 3:30 to go.

10:32 p.m.: We’re in for a great finish at Crypto.com Arena. The stars are trading buckets as Nikola Jokic, LeBron James and Jamal Murray each swap layups to change the lead on three straight possessions. The Lakers hold a one-point lead, 106-105, with 5:20 remaining.

10:24 p.m.: LeBron James went quiet after he reached the 40,000-point mark but he has awoken in the fourth quarter. James has scored seven straight points to put the Lakers in front, 101-99, with 7:34 to play.

End of third quarter: Nuggets 89, Lakers 89

10:14 p.m.: Denver flipped the script in the third quarter but the Lakers did a solid job fighting back. The Nuggets took the lead after Nikola Jokic went into takeover mode, but Rui Hachimura finished the frame with seven consecutive points of his own to tie the game heading into the fourth.

Jokic’s 29 points leads all scorers, but Michael Porter Jr. has added 20 points and nine rebounds. Hachimura’s 23 points leads the Lakers, while Anthony Davis (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Austin Reaves (14 points, 11 assists) both have double-doubles. LeBron James has a quiet 13 points and eight assists.

10:09 p.m.: Nikola Jokic is starting to assert his dominance on the game. The reigning Finals MVP has scored 13 straight points for the Nuggets, up to a game-high 29 points before you could blink. Denver has taken an 88-87 lead with 1:14 to play in the third quarter.

10:00 p.m.: Here come the Nuggets. Denver has surged back into this contest with a quick 15-9 run to start the second half. Jamal Murray is finally getting going, scoring six points in the first five minutes. Michael Porter Jr. still hasn’t missed a shot, going a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and 4-for-4 from 3 for a game-high 20 points.

Halftime: Lakers 66, Nuggets 58

9:32 p.m.: The Lakers are sharing the wealth and it’s paying off. Los Angeles has 19 assists on 27 made field goals with four different players β€” Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura and LeBron James β€” in double figures scoring.

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9:25 p.m.: Back to the game β€” the Lakers are still rolling. D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura are making life easy for their star teammates with 13 points apiece. LeBron James is up to 11 points and six assists while Anthony Davis has 10 points.

Michael Porter Jr. has the hot hand for the Nuggets, burying all six of his field goal attempts with three 3-pointers for 15 points.

9:13 p.m.: LeBron James has done it. He is the first player in NBA history to register 40,000 career points. The Lakers star hit the milestone with a nice drive, spin and finish with his left hand over Michael Porter Jr.

9:09 p.m.: LeBron James is back in the game and starts the second quarter with an and-one finish. After missing the free throw, he is two points shy of 40,000.

End of first quarter: Lakers 33, Nuggets 27

9:05 p.m.: The Lakers are getting anything they want on the offensive end. Rui Hachimura leads all scorers with nine points, Austin Reaves dished out seven first-quarter assists and Los Angeles is shooting 61.9 percent (13-21) from the field as a team.

Nikola Jokic has a team-high 11 points but Jamal Murray looks rusty with his ankle injury, missing all three shot attempts in the first frame.

8:56 p.m.: LeBron James headed to the bench with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. He’ll likely check back in during the second quarter just four points shy of the 40,000 milestone. 

8:54 p.m.: LeBron James gets his first 3-point attempt to fall and now he’s just four points away from 40,000!

8:48 p.m.: The Lakers’ offense is humming along early in this one. They’ve converted eight of their first 11 field goal attempts with Austin Reaves dishing out five assists to set his teammates up for open looks.

LeBron James has only attempted two shots but just broke free for an easy transition layup. Los Angeles leads 18-12 with 6:20 remaining in the first quarter.

Pregame

8:30 p.m.: Ahead of tip-off, Nikola Jokic joked with LeBron James that the Nuggets were going to hold him to eight points.

8:00 p.m.: The Lakers will start D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

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8:00 p.m.: Jamal Murray (ankle) will play and start for the Nuggets. He will be joined by Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr. and Christian Braun, who is starting in place of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

7:30 p.m.: The Lakers are ready for history. There is a running countdown for LeBron James’ pursuit of 40,000 points at Crypto.com Arena.

7:20 p.m.: Just nine points away from 40,000, the NBA has you covered with a highlight reel of James’ illustrious career to get you pumped up for the moment.

7:00 p.m.: The Nuggets will be without starting forward Kentavious Caldwell-Pope due to “personal reasons.” Jamal Murray, who suffered an ankle injury in Denver’s game on Thursday, will be a true game-time decision.

What channel Is Lakers vs. Nuggets on today?

  • TV channel (National): ABC
  • TV channel (Los Angeles): Spectrum SportsNet
  • TV channel (Denver): Altitude Sports Network

Saturday night’s game between the Lakers and Nuggets will air on ABC. Regional sports networks in Southern California and Denver will also carry the game.

Lakers vs. Nuggets start time

  • Date: Saturday, March 2
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET | 5:30 p.m. PT

The matchup between the Lakers and Nuggets will tip off around 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. local time) from Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

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