LeBron James passes Karl Malone on NBA scoring rankings

LeBron James moved into second place on the NBA's all-time regular season points scoring rankings on Saturday but could not prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from slumping to defeat against the Washington Wizards.

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (6) in action.   -  AP

LeBron James moved into second place on the NBA's all-time regular season points scoring rankings on Saturday but could not prevent the Los Angeles Lakers from slumping to defeat against the Washington Wizards.

James produced a typically virtuoso performance to finish with 38 points and 10 rebounds at the Wizards' Capital One Arena.

That was enough to power James past Karl Malone into second place in the regular season scorers rankings with 36,947 points.

But it did not stop the Lakers from sliding to a jarring 127-119 loss against a Wizards side which had been on a six-game losing streak.

"Just to be a part of this league for as many years as I've been a part of it, to be linked with some of the greatest to ever play this game, guys I've watched or studied, or read about, or inspired to be like, I'm just lost for words for it," James said of his scoring achievement.

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"It's an honor for myself, for my friends and family to live these moments, for anyone who's shared my journey."

James -- who holds the NBA's outright scoring record for regular season and playoff games -- started the game needing just 20 points to surpass Malone's regular season total of 36,928.

James wasted no time in hunting down Malone's benchmark, rapidly reaching double figures before moving to 16 points with back-to-back three-pointers early in the second quarter.

The four-time NBA champion then added another three-pointer to tie Malone, before finally taking sole possession of second place with a two-point layup with just over five minutes left in the second quarter.

The Washington crowd gave James an ovation after he reached the milestone, with the Lakers star saluting fans as he basked in the applause.

James' points haul leaves him within range of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's all-time record of 38,387 points.

But James' celebratory moment was diminished after the Lakers suffered another fourth quarter collapse to allow the Wizards to claim victory.

The Wizards outscored the Lakers 34-20 in the final period, completing a comeback from a 16-point deficit to grab the win.

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Kristaps Porzingis led the Washington comeback with 16 points in the fourth quarter, part of an overall tally of 27 points.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel saluted James' scoring achievement despite the loss.

"It's bittersweet but I think it's important to separate it," Vogel said.

"We can't get caught up in the pain of this loss, and have to recognize what an incredible feat this was.

"LeBron just attacked the game tonight. Just a signature performance in a game where he passes one of the greats."

James said he was unable to let his scoring moment eclipse the sting of defeat.

"At the end of the day all I care about is wins and losses," he said. "I'm sure some day I'll be able to look back at this moment, but right now I can't separate it.

"We had a great opportunity to pick up some more momentum, and played well enough to win this game through 36 minutes, but in the last quarter we let it go."

Timberwolves 138, Bucks 119

Karl-Anthony Towns recorded his seventh double-double in the last eight games as Minnesota earned a win over visiting Milwaukee to extend its win streak to four games.

Towns poured in 25 points and 11 rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting to help the Timberwolves sweep the two-game season series with Milwaukee. Anthony Edwards also had 25 points, and D'Angelo Russell chipped in 16.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined due to knee soreness, Khris Middleton paced Milwaukee with 15 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-13 shooting. Brook Lopez and Pat Connaughton also supplied 15 points, Jrue Holiday tallied 14 and Grayson Allen contributed 13.

Cavaliers 113, Pistons 109

All-Star guard Darius Garland had a team-high 24 points and a game-high 12 assists, and teammate Cedi Osman came off the bench for 16 points to power Cleveland to a victory over visiting Detroit.

The Cavs also got 15 points from Lamar Stevens, and 14 points and 10 rebounds from Kevin Love.

Forward Jerami Grant had a game-high 40 points for the Pistons, while Saddiq Bey added 20 points -- 31 fewer than he scored in Detroit's last game against Orlando.

Hornets 129, Mavericks 108

Miles Bridges scored 23 points and P.J. Washington had 22 as Charlotte put on a dazzling display of long-range shooting in a win over visiting Dallas.

Terry Rozier notched 18 points for the Hornets, who launched 42 shots beyond the arc. Kelly Oubre Jr. (17 points), Montrezl Harrell (13) and Isaiah Thomas (11) led the production from Charlotte's reserves.

The Mavericks' Luka Doncic poured in 37 points on 13-for-20 shooting, including 8-for-12 on 3-pointers, before sitting out the fourth quarter. Frank Ntilikina was next with 12 points, Jalen Brunson and Marquese Chriss each had 10 points and Maxi Kleber scored nine.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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