NBA Power Rankings: Utah takes over top spot as Nets, Lakers stumble

Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz
Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images
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There are three undefeated teams left in the NBA, two of them are in the top three on this week’s NBC Sports NBA Power Rankings, but the Bulls still have something to prove — which they can do this week.

 
Jazz small icon 1. Jazz (3-0, Last Week No. 4). Undefeated and with a top-five offense and defense, and the best net rating in the NBA so far at +16.4 (that’s once you filter out garbage time, as Cleaning the Glass does). The Jazz are poised to be a regular season force, even if we all will judge them on what happens in the playoffs. Rudy Gobert has been a beast on the glass, with a career-high 14.3 rebounds a game (30.6 rebounding rate, also a career high), and he’s pulling down 4.7 offensive boards a game. Is this a trend that will continue all season?

 
Heat small icon 2. Heat (2-1, LW 6). Miami’s opening game beatdown of the Bucks was a sign of how good the Heat can be when everything clicks (even if the Bucks sat a handful of key players that night). Tyler Herro is looking like the bubble version of himself, averaging 23.3 points per game, something the Heat need. Miami has been fantastic on defense but struggled on the other end floor so far despite Herro and Jimmy Butler; it is something to watch. There isn’t a lot of depth showing on this team right now, with Duncan Robinson shooting 32% from 3 and Markieff Moris at 25%.

 
Warriors small icon 3. Warriors (4-0, LW 12). Stephen Curry is playing like he wants your MVP vote — his 45/10/10 against the Clippers was ridiculous — but the depth the Warriors built up the past couple of seasons has been the real key to the fast start. Jordan Poole has picked up some of the scoring load averaging 15.3 a game, Damion Lee is bringing 14.3 points a night off the bench, and they are getting solid minutes from guys like Kevon Looney and Juan Toscano-Anderson. The Warriors have their next eight games at home and are poised for a very fast start to the season.

 
Bucks small icon 4. Bucks (3-1, LW 1). The Bucks are treating the regular season as champions do: Winning, but playing like a team looking past these games and thinking about May and June. We’ll forgive their one blowout loss to the Heat because they rested five rotation players, but their defense has been bottom 10 statistically to start the season, and while we don’t expect that to last it’s a sign of their focus. Interesting showdown with the Jazz on Sunday, but it is the second night of a back-to-back for the Bucks.

 
Hawks small icon 5. Hawks (2-1 LW 8). Atlanta is a hard team to read after three games. The opening night destruction of Dallas — with De'Andre Hunter holding Luka Doncic in check — felt like peak Hawks (although Dallas’ play early takes a little shine off that win). Then they turn around and lose to a Cavaliers team that is surprisingly feisty but not talented enough to beat a team with championship aspirations (Atlanta also knocked off Detroit). The Hawks look improved with Hunter starting and Cam Reddish putting up numbers off the bench (both of them missed most of the playoffs last season), so we lean to the optimistic side with this team.

 
Knicks small icon 6. Knicks (3-1, LW 14). Tom Thibodeau has his team launching threes at a historic rate to start the season, 46 attempts a game, second most in the league (Boston at 47). Just having Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier as a threat to launch a 3 coming off the pick-and-roll opens up the offense (New York was 16-of-37 from beyond the arc Tuesday, which gives them 70 3-pointers through four games). Interesting test against the undefeated Bulls on Thursday.

 
Nets small icon 7. Nets (2-2, LW 2). Do not go hitting — or even looking for — the panic button in Brooklyn, this is just a team looking disinterested in the regular season. James Harden has only gotten to the line 12 times in four games, leading to a lot of talk about the new free throw rules (which have been great for the game), but his issues are bigger than that as he is coming off last season’s hamstring issues and doesn’t seem to trust it yet. Steve Nash is tinkering with lineups to see who fits together, especially with no Kyrie Irving, and he has yet to settle on the combos he likes. The Nets are a work in progress, but they also are looking at May and June, not October.

 
Bulls small icon 8. Bulls (4-0, LW 15). There’s plenty of reason for optimism in Chicago after the best start since the Jordan era, but the Bulls 4-0 start is made up of two wins over the Cade-less Pistons, one against the Zion-less Pelicans and the Siakam-less Raptors (combined those teams are 2-9). The Bulls have defended well. That starts with Lonzo Ball, who has looked fantastic on both ends, his passing has other players cutting hard off the ball to get rewarded. Alex Caruso has looked strong closing games (because of his defense. However, the next three weeks we find out how good the Bulls really are: Chicago’s next six games are New York, Utah, Boston, Philadelphia (twice) and Brooklyn.

 
Sixers small icon 9. 76ers (2-2, LW 9). Ben Simmons came in second in Defensive Player of the Year voting a season ago, and without him this season the 76ers are 3.2 points per 100 possessions worse defensively than they were last season. Or, look at it this way: Philly is 25th in the NBA in defense so far this season. The offense has been good, with Tyrese Maxey playing fairly well as Ben Simmons understudy, and six players averaging double figures a night (led by Tobias Harris with 20). How good are the 76ers? They blew a fourth quarter lead against the Nets and were handled by the Knicks, and their wins are against weaker teams (New Orleans and Oklahoma City). We don’t know about this team, yet.

 
Lakers small icon 10. Lakers (2-2, LW 5). The good signs: Los Angeles played by far its best game in the win against the Grizzlies, with better pace, players attacking the rim and not settling, and Russell Westbrook setting screens for LeBron James. Then against the Spurs, Anthony Davis continued to play like an MVP and Westbrook broke out with 33 points. The concerning signs: Their wins are against expected borderline playoff teams and required big minutes and games from their stars, and L.A.’s offense and defense remain middle of the pack. The sore leg for LeBron and the tweaked ankle Davis played through are minor, but health will always be the big concern with LA.

 
Nuggets small icon 11. Nuggets (2-2, LW 11). The good news is Nikola Jokic‘s knee injury doesn’t appear to be serious and it doesn’t look like he will miss significant time. This is huge for Denver, which is not the same without him: In 118 minutes with Jokic on the court the Nuggets are +37, in the 74 minutes he is out they are -43. The important thing is the Nuggets defense has been top 10 to start the season, because while the offense has stumbled we know that will come around. Once Jokic returns to the lineup.

 
Suns small icon 12. Suns (1-2, LW 3). We’d say Deandre Ayton looks unfocused to start the season — four fewer points and 2.5 fewer rebounds a game, and he is shooting 50%, down from 62.6% a season ago — but the entire Suns team seems unfocused. Phoenix has a bottom-five defense to start the season and are getting destroyed from the arc, and the offense hasn’t been near good enough to make up for it. Maybe it’s just a hangover from the Finals run, maybe they’re distracted by the Ayton contract and/or the Sarver story reported to drop, maybe a lot of things, but Chris Paul and Monty Williams have some work to do to get the team focused again.

 
Celtics small icon 13. Celtics (2-2, LW 10). Boston is a tough team to read to start the season, but they don’t look threatening unless Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Green both go off (as they did against Charlotte going off for 71 in an overtime win). The Celtics are middle of the pack on offense and defense, and new coach Ime Udoka’s team has yet to establish any kind of identity. Injuries have played a role, but the bench has been a mess — Boston is generally outplaying teams with its starters on the floor, but things change once the bench enters the game.

 
Hornets small icon 14. Hornets (3-1, LW 19). Charlotte is all about the offense, top three in the league so far. Miles Bridges has taken a step forward from his strong play at the end of last season, proving he is more than a walking dunk highlight (although he still looks to end people every time he attacks the rim). Bridges is averaging 25 points a game this season, with 79% of his shots coming at the rim or from 3. LaMelo Ball is playing with a real swagger in his second season, averaging 22.8 points and 6.8 assists a game. You know he’s feeling confident because he pulled this outfit off after the season opener.

 
Grizzlies small icon 15. Grizzlies (2-1, LW 17). Ja Morant is shooting 44.4% on six 3-point attempts a game — that should scare the rest of the NBA. He shot 27.3% from 3 last season, but he showed against the Lakers he is already comfortable shooting from beyond the arc off the bounce. Morant is averaging 35 points a game — it’s going to be tough for the coaches to keep him off the West All-Stars this season. Thanks to Morant, the Grizzlies have the best offense in the NBA so far, but their 30th ranked defense will catch up with them.

 
Mavericks small icon 16. Mavericks (2-1, LW 7). Dallas is struggling to find its way, particularly on offense in the new Jason Kidd era (24th in the league so far). They’ve had their most offensive success when the pace slowed down and they have run a lot of Luka Doncic pick-and-rolls, but Kidd understands the Mavericks ultimately need to be more than that. One thing that hasn’t looked great statistically is Doncic paired with Kristaps Porzingis, but it’s early. A respectable defense has kept the Mavericks in games and above. 500.

 
Wizards small icon 17. Wizards (2-1, LW 20). Spencer Dinwiddie has looked sharp to start the season, averaging 19 points a game and shooting 53.5% from 3, leading Washington to a one win without Bradley Beal (hip). Most impressively for new coach Wes Unseld Jr., he has the Wizards playing top 10 defense through three games (the offense will come around as the season wears on). Highlight of the week: Montrezl Harrell picks up a technical for trash-talking Drake (which is a foul in Toronto, apparently).

 
18. Timberwolves (2-1, LW 22). The 2-1 start is positive, as is the strong defense to open the season, but with those games being against the Rockets and Pelicans (twice), we’re all still trying to figure how good this team really is. We do know Karl-Anthony Towns has been brilliant scoring 29 points a game and shooting 50% on the 6.7 3-pointers he’s taking a game. The offense thrives when he is on the court, but drops off pretty fast when he sits. The schedule gets tougher in the coming weeks, starting with the Bucks and Nuggets this week, giving us a sense of how good Minnesota is.

 
Clippers small icon19. Clippers (1-2, LW 13). Paul George has been brilliant trying to carry the offensive load three games into the season, averaging 28 points a game with an impressive 63 true shooting percentage, plus he averages seven rebounds and four steals a game. Will he get enough help has been the question and the answer so far is… meh. Eric Bledsoe has played fairly well (13.7 points a game), Reggie Jackson has had his moments, but there has been nothing for Ty Lue to lean on. Los Angeles has a top-10 defense to start the season, maybe that’s where Lue focuses his attention.

 
Cavaliers small icon 20. Cavaliers (2-2, LW 26). Watch this feisty Cavaliers team and the potential of Evan Mobley leaps out — he’s averaging 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and a couple of blocks per game. His quick leaping ability around the rim, and his ability to switch onto guards on the perimeter — he did a respectable job against Trae Young last weekend — are reasons for real optimism. Jarrett Allen is averaging 17 points and 9.5 rebounds a game so far this season for the Cavaliers.

 
Pacers small icon 21. Pacers (1-3, LW 21). It’s just four games, but the Chris Duarte experience is real. The rookie out of Oregon is averaging 19.8 points per game and shooting 44.8% on 3-pointers — he was one of the most NBA-ready rookies in the draft and it shows. The Pacers are better than their record, two of those losses were in overtime plus one was to the Bucks. Wins are coming, especially with Myles Turner breaking out as a pick-and-pop big and who can cut to the rim and make plays (plus block shots). He looked great against Wizards dropping 40.

 
Raptors small icon 22. Raptors (1-3, LW 18). Scottie Barnes is showing off his potential to start the season, relentlessly attacking the rim — 66% of his shots come within 10 feet of the basket, but he’s finishing more than two thirds of those and is averaging 16.8 points a game (and adding 8.5 rebounds). The defense is top-10 in the league and keeping them in games, but the bottom-10 offense might not improve much until Pascal Siakam returns and gets his legs back under him.

 
Blazers small icon 23. Trail Blazers (1-2, LW 16). Stop with the “it’s a slow start, Damian Lillard is going to ask out” line of thinking — Lillard wants to make this work and has said again and again he is going to give new coach Chauncey Billups a chance. CJ McCollum has been a house on fire to start the season: 27.3 points per game and shooting 48.5% from 3 on 11 attempts per game. Challenging games at home this week against the feisty Grizzlies and Clippers, then the Blazers head east for three games.

 
Spurs small icon 24. Spurs (1-3, LW 25). If they had just hit their free throws — 12-of-22, with four critical misses late in regulation — the Spurs would be .500 for the season, but they opened the door for the Lakers and took a rough loss at home Tuesday. Jakob Poeltl continues to be a quiet force, averaging 16 points and 10.8 rebounds a game, and against the Lakers he had 27 and 14, plus did this to Anthony Davis.

 
Kings small icon 25. Kings (1-2, LW 23). The Kings would be higher up this ranking (and have more wins) if they didn’t wilt in the fourth quarter (albeit to good teams in the Jazz and Warriors). Sacramento has impressive guard play with DeAaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, and already lockdown defender rookie Davion Mitchell, plus at the four Harrison Barnes has looked good. However, the front court is not inspiring and is an issue. On the bright side, look what Davion Mitchell did to Donovan Mitchell.

 https://twitter.com/thekingsherald/status/1451742774877769732

 
Rockets small icon 26. Rockets (1-3, LW 28). Jalen Green scored 30 points and drained a franchise rookie record eight 3-pointers against Dallas, a sign of what this team hopes to see in the future. That said, they got their win because the veterans Christian Wood (31 points) and Eric Gordon 22 points) went off against OKC. Kevin Porter Jr. is still finding his way at point guard, but you see flashes that remind you why the Rockets want to stick with this for a while.

 
Pelicans small icon 27. Pelicans (1-3, LW 24). The latest on Zion Williamson is that he is “progressing” but he is not running at full speed yet, so it’s still going to be a while. Without him, the Pelicans are scoring less than a point per possession and are 28th in the league on offense. Brandon Ingram is living in the midrange, taking 43.4% of his shots between 10 feet and the arc, but is hitting them and scoring 27 points a game.

 
Magic small icon 28. Magic (1-3, LW 27). Orlando is leaning heavily into Mo Bamba to start the season, and so far he has responded: 13.5 points per game with a 64 true shooting percentage, plus eight rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. It’s far too early in the season to say Bamba has turned a corner, but he has played better than expected. There’s not much else to be positive about in Orlando — outside of Cole Anthony‘s 29-point game against the Knicks — as the Magic have a bottom seven offense and defense. Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac remain out with no timeline for a return.

Pistons small icon 29. Pistons (0-3, LW 29). Detroit has quietly been playing solid defense to start the season (and considering they are going up against a loaded Bulls offense that’s a very good sign). With No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham still out and Jeramie Grant missing a game (and maybe more) with an elbow issue, it’s been hard for the Pistons to come by points. Cunningham could make his return in the coming week, which would give everyone a reason to tune into the Pistons.

 
Thunder small icon 30. Thunder (0-4, LW 30). Looking for the bright side, rookie Josh Giddey has shown potential as a playmaker, scoring 9 points a game but adding 4.5 assists. There’s a long way to go but you can see the possibilities with Giddey, and he’s certainly going to get plenty of run this season. The biggest problem, among many, in OKC is shooting: Their four players who started every game (Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley) are a combined 15-of-70 on 3-pointers this season (21.4%).

Watch Dennis Schroder hit the most casual half-court buzzer beater ever

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Act like you’ve done it before.

The Lakers’ Dennis Schroder drained a half-court buzzer-beater against the Knicks — turning his back on the shot and being completely non-pulsed when it happened.

The Lakers had been 2-of-16 from 3 before that shot, and they ended up needing those points. Despite a historic triple-double from LeBron James, the Lakers had to go into overtime to beat the Knicks, 129-123.

Three things to Know: Is Nikola Jokić going to win third straight MVP?

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Three Things To Know is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.

1) Is Nikola Jokić going to win third straight MVP?

That’s a weird headline to write just days after Joel Embiid outplayed Nikola Jokić head-to-head. Embiid absolutely is in the MVP mix again this season — 33.6 points and 10 rebounds per game with strong defense will do that — and that 47-point game is the kind of thing that sticks in voters’ minds. Jayson Tatum, Luka Dončić and Giannis Antetokounmpo are in there, too (not sure Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry will play enough games to win the award).

But Jokić is averaging a triple-double this season — 25.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10 assists — and his team is in first place in the West. It’s a season worthy of a third straight MVP. If someone is going to dethrone him, well, you come at the king, you best not miss.

Jokić had 28 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists on 10-of-14 shooting in the Nuggets’ win over the Pelicans on Tuesday night — Denver is now 16-0 this season when Jokić has a triple-double.

Heading into the season there was a sense MVP voters would be hesitant to make it a historic three straight MVPs for Jokić — putting him in Larry Bird and Bill Russell territory — when the Nuggets haven’t been to the Finals yet. However, Denver sits atop the West and looks like a contender with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. healthy.

Plus, Jokić’s numbers are undeniable — the Nuggets are 20.2 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court this season. They win because of him, Denver gets outscored by 8.5 points per 100 when he is off the court. And we’re not going to dive into EPM, VORP and the rest of the advanced stats, just know they love Jokić like no other, too.

Jokić may not win his third MVP, there are other deserving guys in the mix and we have 30+ games to go this season. Just don’t be shocked if he does, he has been that good.

2) LeBron has historic night as he chases big his historic night

LeBron James is now just 89 points short of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. He probably passes KAJ next week, Abdul-Jabbar has 38,387 career points, LeBron is now at 38,299.

First he made some history on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. LeBron had a triple-double of 28 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, making him the first player in NBA history to have a triple-double in his 20th season.

More impressively, with those 11 assists he moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash into fourth on the NBA’s career assists list. Think about that for a second, the league’s all-time leading scorer is fourth in assists, too.

The Lakers couldn’t hold on to a late lead in regulation — LeBron missed a couple of long jumpers that could have sealed the win — and Los Angeles needed overtime to get the 129-123 victory. They needed it after dropping two games to start this road trip. Anthony Davis moved back into the starting lineup and the Lakers need to string together a few weeks of wins to climb back into the play-off — or even the play-in mix — or all this history by LeBron will be squandered by the franchise.

3) Banchero, Henderson lead group that will make Rising Stars worth watching

The Rising Stars challenge is often the forgotten child of All-Star weekend. It takes place on Friday night and isn’t all that interesting.

This year may be different — a deep cast of talent will play in the new format that was a hit last season. The 28 players will be divided into four teams of seven, with those four teams going into a tournament bracket. The games were not timed, but players competed to a target score of 40 — something that last season led to the young stars defending and playing hard. It was entertaining.

Here’s the list of who will be playing:

Rookies

Paolo Banchero (Orlando Magic), Jalen Duren (Detroit Pistons), AJ Griffin (Atlanta Hawks), Jaden Ivey (Detroit Pistons), Walker Kessler (Utah Jazz), Bennedict Mathurin (Indiana Pacers), Keegan Murray (Sacramento Kings), Andrew Nembhard (Indiana Pacers), Jabari Smith Jr. (Houston Rockets), Jeremy Sochan (San Antonio Spurs), Jalen Williams (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Sophomores

Jose Alvarado (New Orleans Pelicans), Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors), Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City Thunder), Jalen Green (Houston Rockets), Quentin Grimes (New York Knicks), Bones Hyland (Denver Nuggets), Evan Mobley (Cleveland Cavaliers), Trey Murphy III (New Orleans Pelicans), Alperen Sengun (Houston Rockets), Franz Wagner (Orlando Magic)

The G-League team will consist of:

Sidy Cissoko (G League Ignite), Scoot Henderson (G League Ignite), Mojave King (G League Ignite), Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Memphis Hustle), Mac McClung (Deleware Blue Coats), Leonard Miller (G League Ignite), Scotty Pippen Jr. (South Bay Lakers)

It’s a group worth watching on Friday night (Feb. 17) of All-Star weekend.

Watch LeBron’s big night: Moves into fourth in assists, triple-double, win over Knicks

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LeBron James always saves something special for Madison Square Garden.

LeBron had a triple-double of 28 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds — he became the first player in NBA history to have a triple-double in his 20th season.

That wasn’t the only bit of history, with those 11 dimes he moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash into fourth on the NBA’s career assists list. And if that wasn’t enough, the 28 points moved him within 89 points of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA all-time scoring record: Abdul-Jabbar has 38,387, LeBron is now at 38,299.

For LeBron, however, what mattered most was the win — 129-123 in overtime, giving a Lakers team starved for wins its first on this road trip out East.

“I didn’t get to this point in my career by thinking about records or how many points I have, whatever the case might be,” LeBron said, via the Associated Press. “I just play the game the right way. I approach the game every night only trying to be a triple threat by scoring, rebounding, assisting, defending, and may the chips fall where they may.”

LeBron had help, with Anthony Davis adding 27 points and nine rebounds. The Knicks got 37 from Jalen Brunson, and Julius Randle had 23 points and 12 rebounds.

LeBron needed that help as he wasn’t the sharpest he had been this season, starting 2-of-8 from the floor, then missing a couple of long jumpers in the game’s final minutes when the Lakers had the chance to seal the win. But he was good enough and put on a show for the sold-out crowd in New York.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
89

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,299

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks
Feb. 11 at Warriors

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 7 at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, although that would be by one point, so Feb. 9 against Milwaukee is certainly a possibility.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron had his first triple-double of the season — and became the first player ever with one in his 20th season — scoring 28 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists — to help lead the Lakers past the Knicks in overtime on Tuesday night. With those 11 assits LeBron moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash to be fourth on the NBA’s all-time assists list.

• LeBron James did suit up to play Tuesday night against the Knicks (in Madison Square Garden on national television, that shouldn’t have been a surprise). Anthony Davis was cleared to play as well.

• After sitting out against the Nets on Monday, LeBron is officially questionable to play Tuesday in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks and will be a game-time decision. Lakers coach Darvin Ham said LeBron has “really significant soreness” in his left foot (after playing 44 minutes against Boston). LeBron and the medical staff will speak after LeBron starts to warm up Tuesday to determine if LeBron can play in Madison Square Garden, a game he hates to miss because he loves playing in that venue.

• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Crypto.com Arena.

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”