LeBron James hopped off the court and limped to the locker room, unsure if he’d be able to return for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Sure enough, the All-Star forward came back and became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points. That still wasn’t enough to beat the Boston Celtics.
“It doesn’t make me happy to do it in a losing effort,” James said after the 92-87 loss Wednesday night. “To be in the record books is a tribute to my teammates, myself and my family.”
Ray Allen scored 22 points and Kevin Garnett added 18 with 11 rebounds for Boston to help the NBA’s top team win its third straight and improve to 2-2 for the season against the defending Eastern Conference champions.
“We had our hands full (with James), but I thought we did a pretty good job,” Allen said. “I think we gutted it out.”
James sprained his ankle and missed the last 4:24 of the first half, but X-rays were negative and he was back for the start of the second.
“I know my ankle, and tomorrow it’s going to be a lot worse,” James said.
James reached the 10,000-point milestone at 23 years and 59 days, more than a year younger than Kobe Bryant was when he did it in 2003 (24 years, 193 days). It took James 368 games to do it — the ninth-fewest games in league history.
In other NBA games, it was: Denver 138, Seattle 96; New Orleans 120, Phoenix 103; Utah 103, Detroit 95; Chicago 113, Indiana 107; New York 113, Charlotte 89; Philadelphia 101, Orlando 89; Toronto 107, Minnesota 85; Atlanta 123, Sacramento 117; and Portland 82, the Los Angeles Clippers 80.
At Boston, the Cavaliers shot just 38 percent from the floor and James was 7-for-24.
“When you have an off-shooting night like this, it’s tough to pull a game out,” James said. “Especially against the best team in the league.”
The Cavaliers were playing their third game with four new players, including Ben Wallace, acquired in an 11-player, three-team deal at the trading deadline.
“They’re so new, we really didn’t see them,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “They’re going to be so much better because of that trade.”
Cavs coach Mike Brown was ejected with 42 seconds left in the third quarter after he had to be restrained by his assistants while arguing a foul call against James.
Neither James’ performance on the court nor Brown’s outburst could help Cleveland close what was a double-digit deficit most of the game. After hitting the first two baskets of the fourth quarter to make it 75-66, the Cavs never got closer than 10 points until the final minute.
Nuggets 138, SuperSonics 96
Allen Iverson scored 31 points, and Denver scored the most points in the NBA this season.
The visiting Nuggets snapped a three-game losing streak, shooting 67 percent — a franchise record. The previous best was nearly 30 years ago, when the Nuggets shot 66.7 percent against New Jersey early in the 1978 season.
Mickael Gelabale and Kevin Durant each scored 16 points for Seattle.
Hornets 120, Suns 103
Chris Paul had 25 points, 15 assists and three steals to help New Orleans end a three-game losing skid.
David West scored 27 points and reserve guard Jannero Pargo added 22 for New Orleans, which shot 53 percent in avoiding its first four-game losing streak of the season.
Amare Stoudemire led visiting Phoenix with 32 points and 14 rebounds.
Jazz 103, Pistons 95
Mehmet Okur scored 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter and Utah rallied from a 15-point deficit at home to beat Detroit for the sixth straight time.
Paul Millsap scored 19, including 16 in the second half and led Utah’s comeback.
Bulls 113, Pacers 107
At Indianapolis, Larry Hughes had 29 points and Drew Gooden added 10 points and 15 rebounds, helping new-look Chicago to a victory.
Mike Dunleavy had 25 points for the slumping Pacers.
Knicks 113, Bobcats 89
Nate Robinson scored 22 points, Jamal Crawford added 20, and the Knicks matched their most lopsided victory of the season.
Matt Carroll scored 19 points for the visiting Bobcats, who lost their third straight.
76ers 101, Magic 89
Andre Miller scored 22 of his 26 points in the first half and Willie Green had a season-high 26 to lead Philadelphia at home.
Andre Iguodala added 24 points, and the Sixers constantly harassed Orlando center Dwight Howard, who managed 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting and 16 rebounds.
Raptors 107, Timberwolves 85
Chris Bosh scored 28 points, T.J. Ford had 16 and Toronto beat Minnesota for the eighth straight time. The Raptors have won five of six overall and four straight at home.
Al Jefferson scored 23 points and Rashad McCants had 19 for the Timberwolves, who have lost eight of their past 10.
Hawks 123, Kings 117
Mike Bibby had 24 points and 12 assists in his home debut for Atlanta against his former team. Joe Johnson had 26 points to lead the Hawks, who had dropped two straight and eight of nine.
Beno Udrih and Brad Miller each scored 25 points to lead the Kings.
Trail Blazers 82, Clippers 80
Jarrett Jack tied a season high with 21 points, scoring 13 in the fourth quarter and leading visiting Portland.
Corey Maggette scored 32 points for the Clippers, but missed a potential go-ahead basket with 8 seconds remaining.