SACRAMENTO, California—Kobe Bryant passed Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list Saturday to help the Los Angeles Lakers to a much-needed 103-98 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Bryant’s jump shot with 7:54 to play in the first half gave him 31,421 career points, taking him past Chamberlain’s total of 31,419.
Bryant, who went into the game trailing Chamberlain by four points, is behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928) and Michael Jordan (32,292).
Bryant had passed former teammate Shaquille O’Neal for fifth place on the list. But Bryant said passing Chamberlain, an NBA icon with Philadelphia ties like himself, was special.
“He was such a warm-hearted gentleman, I have nothing but praise for him. To pass him up is a huge honor to say the least,” Bryant said.
Bryant has insisted he’s more concerned with gaining a sixth NBA title, and the 34-year-old has a battle on his hands with the Lakers struggling to make the playoffs this season.
The Lakers limped into Sacramento, the final stop in a four-game road trip, with Bryant fighting pain from a bone spur in his left foot, an injury that apparently is not related to his sprained left ankle.
Point guard Steve Nash was dealing with a sore hamstring and painful hip.
Nash lasted less than two minutes, but Bryant played 47-plus of 48 minutes, finishing just shy of a triple-double with 19 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds.
“Sometimes you’ve got to will your way through it. Now is not the time to sit back,” said Bryant, who spent just 23 seconds on the sideline.
He said he decided in the first quarter that he wouldn’t let coach Mike D’Antoni take him out of the game for his usual minutes of rest.
“End of the first quarter, Mike looked at me and I said ‘Uh-uh. I’m going 48 tonight,'” Bryant said.
Dwight Howard led the Lakers with 24 points and 15 rebounds and Pau Gasol was the third Laker with a double-double, adding 12 points and 10 assists.
The victory kept them neck-and-neck with the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
Before the Lakers’ game was over the Jazz beat the Brooklyn Nets 116-107.
On Tuesday the Lakers host the Dallas Mavericks, who also remain in contention for the final playoff spot in the West.
“We’ve just got to keep it going, keep understanding where we are,” D’Antoni said. “This is a big win obviously.”