Lakers earn statement win, hand Nuggets first loss

Luke Walton Ivica Zubac

LeBron James hailed the efforts of Lonzo Ball and Lance Stephenson after the Los Angeles Lakers came from eight points down in the final quarter to beat the Denver Nuggets and make it two wins in two nights.

Following a win over the Suns, the Lakers have an opportunity to further claw back from that 0-3 start and avoid an early hole in an unforgiving Western Conference.

James joins a Lakers club that has missed the playoffs in each of their last five seasons, the longest playoff drought in franchise history for the 16-time National Basketball Association champions.

"It feels great to win, period", he said. Wednesday night was the first of a three-game suspension for Rondo and a four-game suspension for Ingram.

But the result was even more impressive: The Lakers trailed by eight points with six minutes left in the fourth quarter before Lance Stephenson, who finished with 12 points, started a 15-2 rally with back-to-back 3-pointers.

Stephenson - who was key in the victory after also coming close to a triple-double with 23 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds - said Walton deserved an assist for the Lakers' defensive focus and increased communication.

"The first couple of games, when we fell behind, we stayed behind", James said.

He provided stellar help defense on Denver's Nikola Jokic (24 points, 11 rebounds, six turnovers) while also guarding Jamal Murray (22 points, 10 rebounds) at times.

James scored all his points in three quarters and likely would have posted his 74th career triple double if he hadn't sat out the fourth with the game already in hand. James is the first Lakers player to record a 20-point triple-double since Bryant did so in December 2014 against Denver.

Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, Derrick Rose had 16 and Taj Gibson 13 for Minnesota.

It took five years for JaVale to score 20 points in a game, but just one day to reach 21.

He said the injury felt like a cramp and would get it checked out Thursday morning.

The Rockets had to rely on 34-year-old Carmelo Anthony who finished with 22 points.

His 51 points is the most by an National Basketball Association player this season, surpassing Detroit Pistons power forward Blake Griffin's 50 in their victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, while Curry also moved above Suns guard Jamal Crawford into fifth on the league's all-time three-pointers made list, with 2,162.

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