While the Los Angeles Lakers managed to rest LeBron James and some others in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s win against the Phoenix Suns — their first victory of the season — they still looked sluggish against the Denver Nuggets in the early going of a back-to-back.
Want to get your content COMPLETELY AD FREE? Follow us on Apple News!
The Lakers overcame the slow start and had a good close to the second quarter, then a strong spurt out of halftime. Although the Nuggets went on a 14-6 run to take a slim lead into the fourth quarter, they were unable to shake the Lakers.
Lance Stephenson singlehandedly put together an 8-0 run and Josh Hart’s two free throws pulled the Lakers even. That was also when James was inserted back into the game, and the spark was lit from there.
Stephenson threaded the needle to find James for a go-ahead slam dunk on a fast break, giving L.A. a lead they never lost. That was followed by a Lonzo Ball step-back 3-pointer and pair of dunks from Kyle Kuzma.
In the process, James recorded his first triple-double with the Lakers, third ever at Staples Center, fifth against the Nuggets and 74th of his career. With 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, James became the first Lakers player with a 20-point triple-double since Kobe Bryant in December 2014.
Coincidentally, James’ performance came on a night Bryant was in attendance and sitting courtside. “That’s a LeBron game. He’s really good,” Lakers head coach Luke Walton said.
“I don’t think there’s a statement game to be made. He’s been great for us. Even the games we lost, he’s still putting up incredible numbers. We’re in these games and have a chance to win, we just weren’t getting any stops defensively. He definitely turned it up a little bit tonight but that’s just a LeBron game.”