Los Angeles - LeBron James unleashed his second 50-point performance in a week to spark the Los Angeles Lakers over Washington 122-109 on Friday but missed a historic NBA milestone.
James scored 50 points on 18-of-25 shooting, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range, and was 8-of-8 from the free throw line while contributing seven rebounds and six assists to power a Lakers team that had lost nine of its prior 11 games.
"We missed a lot of chippies, but we kept fighting, we kept defending, and I was able to hit a hot streak at one point," James said.
The 37-year-old forward, a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, scored 56 points last Saturday in a home win over Golden State. James had the first back-to-back 50-or-more Laker totals at home since the late Kobe Bryant in 2007.
James was in a "zone" after hitting 17 in the first half, scoring 12 points in a row for the Lakers at one stage in the third quarter.
"I just try to stay in that zone as long as possible," James said. "I was able to hit a couple."
It was the 14th career 50-point game for James, tying him for sixth on the all-time list.
LeBron has scored 50+ twice in three games for the first time in his career!— NBA (@NBA) March 12, 2022
Mar. 5: 56 points
Tonight: 50 points pic.twitter.com/8ZSz0JXMQV
But James finished two assists shy of becoming the first player in NBA history with 30 000 career points, 10 000 career rebounds and 10 000 career assists.
James was pleased to get a hug during the game at one stage from his mother Gloria.
"The fact she was here tonight was a treat for me," James said. "She's my biggest supporter, my biggest inspiration and my biggest love."
San Antonio's Gregg Popovich won his NBA record 1,336th regular-season coaching victory, with Dejounte Murray scoring 27 points to lift the Spurs over visiting Utah 104-102.
Popovich, 73, has guided the Spurs to five NBA titles and was coach of the US Olympic squad of NBA stars that won a gold medal last year in Tokyo. He thanked former players, coaches, mentors and those who have backed the club during his tenure.
"It's just a testament to a whole lot of people. Something like this does not belong to one individual," Popovich said. "All of us share in this record. It's not mine. It's ours."
The Spurs made 6-of-8 free throws in the final 14.2 seconds to hold off the Jazz (41-25). San Antonio improved to 26-41, one game behind New Orleans for the last play-in spot for the playoffs.
Suns fall, Heat win
Toronto's Gary Trent Jr. scored 42 points and Pascal Siakam added 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds to lead the Raptors to a 117-112 victory at Phoenix, dropping the NBA overall leaders to 53-14 on the season.
Cameron Payne led the Suns with 24 points while Devin Booker added 22 for Phoenix, who still lead the Western Conference by 7 1/2 games over Memphis.
Bam Adebayo scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds while Jimmy Butler added 24 points to spark the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat over visiting Cleveland 117-105.
The Heat improved to 45-23, stretching Miami's lead in the East to 2 1/2 games over idle defending champion Milwaukee.
Ja Morant scored 37 points and dished out eight assists to rally the Memphis Grizzlies from a 15-point second-half deficit to defeat visiting New York 118-114.
🚫![CDATA]>🚫![CDATA]>🚫![CDATA]>🚫— NBA (@NBA) March 12, 2022
16 blocks for the @memgrizz in tonight's win.. that's an NBA-season high! pic.twitter.com/8q8wM5WkcZ
Morant delivered his 24th 30-point game of the season and scored 15 in the last 12 minutes for his 12th double-digit fourth quarter of the campaign.
Slovenia's Luka Doncic had 30 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 113-110 victory at Houston.
Boston's Jayson Tatum had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists to spark the Celtics over visiting Detroit 114-103. Jaylen Brown returned from a right ankle sprain to score 22 points for Boston (41-27).
Trae Young had game highs of 27 points and 11 assists to spark Atlanta over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers 112-106.
Miles Bridges scored 26 points and Terry Rozier added 25 to lead Charlotte in a 142-120 triumph at New Orleans.
Orlando's Mo Bamba scored 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to spark the Magic over host Minnesota 118-110.