Lakers’ LeBron James becomes first NBA player with 40,000 points

Los Angeles’ Lakers star LeBron James became the first NBA player to reach 40,000 career regular-season points on Saturday, the 39-year-old superstar scoring nine against defending champion Denver to achieve the milestone.

But LeBron James called the historic effort “bittersweet” because it came in a losing cause as Nikola Jokic scored 35 points to rally the Nuggets late for a 124-114 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Being the first player to do something, it’s pretty cool in this league ’cause you just know the history, you know the grace that has come through the league,” James said.

“But the main thing is always the main thing and that’s the win. And I hated that had to happen in a defeat especially versus a team that plays extremely well.

“We played some good basketball but wasn’t able to close it out, so bittersweet, but I enjoyed every moment though, while on the floor.”

LeBron James scored a team-high 26 points, 13 in the fourth quarter, but the Nuggets stretched their win streak to six games.

“I’m glad we’re playing good,” Jokic said. “We’re doing the things we want to do. We don’t have too many breakdowns. I just like how we’re playing the game right now.”

James, who just over a year ago overtook Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the NBA’s all-time scoring mark, is a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player as well as the league’s oldest active player, now in his 21st campaign.

“Just happy for him. It was a hell of an accomplishment,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “Wish we could have got the win to cap it off. But my hat’s off to him. Amazing, amazing run that continues to this day.”

James scored his first basket on a fast break layup 6:20 into the opening quarter to give the Lakers an 18-12 edge, then added a 3-pointer from the left corner 63 seconds later for a 23-14 advantage.