Basketball

LeBron James racks up historic 9,000th assist

Voted AP Male Athlete of the Decade earlier, he has 13 assists and 13 points against Dallas

On the eve of his 35th birthday, LeBron James reached another milestone. He became the ninth player in NBA history with 9,000 assists during the Los Angeles Lakers' 108-95 victory over the Dallas Mavericks yesterday morning (Singapore time) at the Staples Center.

James - named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Decade earlier in the day - got No. 9,000 with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter, when he fired an outlet pass to Anthony Davis three-quarters of the way down the court for a dunk.

It was one of 13 assists on the night for King James.

"It was something that was instilled in me when I first picked up a basketball," he said about his ability to distribute the ball.

"One of my earliest coaches said the best part of the game was to move side to side, attract the defence and get the teammate the open look."

James, who scored 13 points, has been more aggressive running the point the past two games.

He totalled 29 assists and only three turnovers in wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas.

"His pace the last two nights has been outstanding, and not wanting to settle," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

"We have done a much better job of living in the paint the past couple games, making great decisions and being aggressive."

James concurred that he's been more aggressive because he wants to get up the floor quicker to have more time to see what opposing defences are doing.

"My teammates and coaching staff trust me to play the point and run the show," he said.

"It's my job to take care of the ball, put guys in position to be successful, get them the ball on time and on target."

Davis led the Lakers with 23 points and nine rebounds.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added a season-high 19 points, including four three-pointers, and Dwight Howard scored 15. All of Howard's points came in the second quarter.

The Lakers' defence was also impressive as they held the Mavericks to a season low in points as they shot just 36 per cent from the floor.

Luka Doncic led Dallas with 19 points, but struggled from the field one day after getting his ninth triple-double of the season.

The second-year guard shot five of 14 and missed all six of his three-point attempts.

James said he would have a small birthday party yesterday but acknowledged that turning 35 was special.

"I don't have wishes. Biggest one I had was when I turned 21. This one will be mild. When I turn 40, that will be epic," he said. - AP

OTHER RESULTS: Toronto 97 Oklahoma City 98, New Orleans 127 Houston 112, Denver 120 Sacramento 115, Memphis 117 Charlotte 104.

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