Lakers' LeBron James Ties Karl Malone for Most Career 20-Point Games in NBA History

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVOctober 23, 2022

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, left, drives around Portland Trail Blazers forward Justise Winslow during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

You know a player is great when they've set so many records, the new ones they conquer start to get extremely specific.

Enter LeBron James' latest foray into the history books, as he tied NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone for the most 20-point games in league history at 1,134, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin:

Dave McMenamin @mcten

LeBron James has 20 pts on 7-of-14 shooting. It’s the 1,134th 20-point game of his career, tying him with Karl Malone for the most in league history.

It's not going to take James long to set that record and create some distance between himself and Malone. He's averaged 27.1 points per game in his legendary career, after all, and posted an impressive 30.3 points per game last season in the 56 games he played.

The question is how much it will mean to him if it comes amid more Lakers struggles.

The team started 0-2 on the season, a tough start after last year's disaster of a campaign. Many of the same questions from that squad carried over to this iteration: How would Russell Westbrook fit in? Did the Lakers surround James and Anthony Davis with enough floor spacing and defense? Could James and AD stay healthy?

The shooting is a real concern. The team was just 19-of-85 from three in the first two games, though James didn't want to focus on those early struggles.

"I'm definitely not going to sit here and harp on what we can't do every single game," James told reporters Friday when asked about the team's shooting woes. "That's not a leader. What I know we can do? We can defend our ass off. We did that tonight, which gave us an opportunity to win, and we just couldn't make it happen. But I'm OK with that."

"Don't let missed shots take away your confidence," Davis added. "Keep shooting it, be confident in your shot. And they're going to fall. Ain't nothing you can do but keep shooting."

There aren't many guarantees in sports. It seems unlikely the Lakers are going to be able to guarantee they'll be a proficient three-point shooting team this year.

One thing that's all but assured, however, is that so long as James is on the court, he's going to offer 20 or more points a game. Nobody in NBA history has ever done it more.