James deservedly owned the spotlight for becoming the NBA‘s all-time top scorer as he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time record of 38,387 points.
James finished with 38 points in the game to give him 38,390 in his 20-year-career.
Abdul-Jabbar, who celebrated the feat with James at centre court, owned the record for nearly 39 years, having surpassed Wilt Chamberlain on April 5, 1984.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30 points and dished out eight assists for the Thunder, while Jalen Williams added 25 points. Oklahoma City won for just the fourth time in the past nine games after winning four straight from Jan. 12-18.
The Thunder led by as many as 15 points in the first half and were up by 13 in the third quarter, but James’s milestone basket brought Los Angeles within 104-99 heading into the final period.
The Lakers tied the game at 106-106 on a hoop by Rui Hachimura with 9:34 remaining, but a 12-0 run by the Thunder, capped by a layup from Josh Giddey, gave the visitors a 118-106 advantage with seven minutes left.
Kenrich Williams‘ dunk with 6.6 seconds left gave the Thunder a six-point edge. Los Angeles halved the deficit on a 3-pointer by Patrick Beverley with 1.3 seconds to go.
Giddey had 20 points for the Thunder, while Mike Muscala added 16, Isaiah Joe had 15 and Jaylin Williams contributed 14.
Russell Westbrook had 27 points for the Lakers, while Hachimura added 14. Austin Reaves played seven scoreless minutes for Los Angeles after missing the previous 16 games due to a hamstring injury.
James missed his first two shots of the game before scoring his first basket on a 3-pointer from the left wing with 7:03 remaining in the first quarter. He had 20 points by halftime, although Los Angeles trailed 76-66 at the break.
James scored 16 points in the third quarter to set the all-time record, and the game was paused for a brief on-court celebration. James left the contest with just under a minute remaining stretching his right foot.
The Thunder put the game away by outscoring the Lakers 31-29 in the fourth quarter.
It was the first game of the season between the teams with two more to complete the season series scheduled for March.
(With inputs from Reuters)