By Ben Golliver
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant moved into the No. 4 position on the NBA's all-time scoring list during Saturday's game against the Kings in Sacramento. Bryant finished with 19 points (on 5-for-18 shooting), pushing his career total to 31,434 points.
Bryant passed Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain, who totaled 31,419 points in a 14-year career with the Warriors, Sixers and Lakers. The 15-time All-Star guard entered Saturday needing just five points to pass Chamberlain; a pull-up jumper with a little less than eight minutes remaining in the second quarter put Bryant over the top. Bryant passed Chamberlain in game No. 1,233 of his career; Chamberlain set his mark in 1,045 games.
Bryant, 34, passed former teammate Shaquille O'Neal to enter the top five in February 2012 and became the youngest player to reach 30,000 points earlier this season. He now turns his attention to the top three: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points in 1,560 games), Karl Malone (36,928 points in 1,476 games) and Michael Jordan (32,292 points in 1,072 games).
Just 858 points now separate Bryant from Jordan on the list. If Bryant continues scoring at his current rate -- 27.2 points per game -- he will catch Jordan in roughly 32 games. With eight games remaining in the Lakers season, Bryant should reach the No. 3 spot on the scoring list in December 2013, assuming no major injuries and no major drop-off in his scoring average next season.
Bryant is under contract through the 2013-14 season and will make $30.5 million next year.
*This post has been updated to correct Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's point total.