LeBron James may be battling a groin injury, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting up a big performance in a key Western Conference game.
Early in a 108-95 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, James put up four first-quarter assists, the last of which made him the ninth player to ever record 9,000 career assists.
In fitting fashion, the Los Angeles Lakers star showed exquisite vision by finding Anthony Davis three-quarters of the way down the court for a beautiful dunk with 4:35 left in the quarter.
LBJ drops his 9⃣0⃣0⃣0⃣th-career dime‼️— NBA (@NBA) December 30, 2019
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/Pfl4XGcVLR
Although James only went on to score 13 points — tying his career-low in a Lakers uniform — he matched that with 13 assists, nine of which went for dunks.
James’ keen passing skills shined once again, as the Lakers won a second straight game after suffering a season-worst four-game skid. With the win, they hold a 2.5 game lead of the second-place Denver Nuggets, who also won on Sunday.
LeBron is embracing his role as point guard
James has thrived in his first season as the Lakers de facto point guard and has reached this milestone faster than anyone could have expected. The soon-to-be-35-year-old is the only player averaging double-digit assists (10.8), so it has taken him less than half the season to record 338 assists.
Earlier this month, James passed Gary Payton to move into ninth on the career assist list, and he's on pace to pass Isiah Thomas (9,061) before February.
James seems unlikely to top John Stockton's all-time record of 15,806 assists; even if he averaged 800 dimes per season, it would take him until 2027-28 when he is 42 to pass him. However, James, the only player to be among the top-10 leaders in points and assists, will have a good chance to pass second-place Jason Kidd, who is sitting at 12,091 — if Chris Paul doesn’t beat him there first.
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