LeBron James showed he had no intention of slowing down after reaching the 20,000-point milestone, scoring 39 points on Thursday to lead NBA champions the Miami Heat to a 99-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The victory came one day after James scored 25 points in a win over Golden State in Oakland, California, becoming the youngest player in NBA history, at 28, to record 20,000 career points. He also reached 5,000 career assists.
Dwyane Wade, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Thursday, added 27 points, five assists and four rebounds for Miami.
Kobe Bryant paced the Lakers with 22 points, but he connected on just eight-of-25 from the field, missing 14 of his first 17 shots, as the Heat defense stifled Los Angeles and forced 20 Lakers turnovers.
Metta World Peace followed with 16 points, while Dwight Howard contributed a double-double of 13 points and 16 rebounds, but Los Angeles could not stretch their two-game winning streak.
There was some good news for the lackluster Lakers, who had Pau Gasol return from a five-game absence because of a concussion to score 12 points with four rebounds and four assists off the bench.
The Lakers made it interesting at the end, with Bryant’s three-pointer knotting the score at 90-90 with 2 minutes, 33 seconds remaining. Wade answered with a jump shot, Lakers center Dwight Howard missed two free throws and Ray Allen made a jump shot to give the Heat a 94-90 lead.
After Lakers point guard Steve Nash missed a layup, James gave Miami breathing room with a jump shot that made it 96-90 with 49 seconds to play. He added one more basket and a free throw to close it out.
“I thought we played well enough to beat them,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “At the end of the day, turnovers killed us.”
KNICKS 102, PISTONS 87
In London, England, Carmelo Anthony returned to the site of his Olympic triumph and scored 26 points on Thursday to lead the New York Knicks to a comfortable victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Anthony had 18 in the first half as the Knicks (25-13) jumped out to a 16-2 lead, before holding a double-digit lead for most of the game.
Amare Stoudemire added 17 points for the Knicks and J.R. Smith scored 16. Will Bynum led the Pistons with 22 points.
The Pistons (14-25) were the home team at the O2 Arena in London, the site of the Olympic gold-medal game during last year’s London Games. It was the third regular-season NBA game played at the venue, where the then-New Jersey Nets swept the Toronto Raptors in a pair of games two years ago.
Anthony and Knicks teammate Tyson Chandler were on the team that celebrated a gold medal for the US with a win over Spain in August. Chandler scored 10 points on Thursday and pulled down 14 rebounds.
Anthony has at least 20 points in 25 straight games, extending the longest streak of his career.
CLIPPERS 90, TIMBERWOLVES 77
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jamal Crawford scored 22 points and Blake Griffin added 20 as Los Angeles hardly broke a sweat in cruising past free-falling Minnesota.
Lamar Odom grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out six assists as the Clippers outscored Minnesota’s bench 45-23 to overcome Chris Paul’s third straight missed game because of a knee injury.
Luke Ridnour scored 21 points, while Ricky Rubio had four points and six assists in his first start of the season for the Timberwolves, who lost leading scorer and rebounder Nikola Pekovic to bruised right quadriceps in the third quarter.