LeBron James is getting closer and closer with each passing game. After scoring 27 points against the Indiana PacersNew Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, he is now only 36 points shy of breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time NBA scoring record. The former Buck and Laker scored an incredible 38,387 points in his illustrious career, but James is right on his heels with 38,352.
With the Lakers playing their next two games at home, the real question now is whether James would prefer to become the new standard-bearer in the second half of Tuesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder or in the first half of Thursday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Both are nationally-televised games, and both are 10 p.m. East Coast starts. James, of course, can drop 36 points any night he chooses, but would he want the hometown fans in Cleveland to have to stay up past midnight to witness history? We say no. So expect James to get close enough on Tuesday for this to become a prime-time TV event before 11 p.m. Thursday night. And so with that in mind, let's go game-by-game and predict how many points he'll score in the buildup to the record.
Tuesday, Feb. 7 vs. Thunder: 26 points
This is roughly when we should expect the gravity of the record to hit him and for him to start pressing a bit. Remember, Stephen Curry was taking over 14 3-pointers per game in the seven games leading up to his 3-point record-breaker last season, and he was hitting them at only a 34.7 percent clip. So expect a high-volume, low-efficiency game out of James in this one, especially if Lu Dort can make it back from his right hamstring strain and put him in the "Dorture Chamber." -- Projected points away from record postgame: 10
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Thursday, Feb. 9 vs. Bucks: 34 points
All signs point to Milwaukee. This is the opponent his current pace would have him breaking the record against for so many reasons. It's a home game, which James would likely prefer. The Bucks are a team James has typically succeeded against. They are a worthy opponent led by his fellow All-Star captain, Giannis Antetokounmpo. They are even the first team that Abdul-Jabbar played, plus the captain has said that he will be in attendance. (He said he would be at Tuesday's game as well, but, c'mon, this Thursday plot line just writes itself.) Anyway, this should be the night, and it should come relatively early in the game in a prime-time window coast to coast.
After nearly 39 years, the NBA has a new all-time scoring king, and his name is LeBron James.