Lakers earn statement win, hand Nuggets first loss

Luke Walton Ivica Zubac

Stephenson scored 12 points in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting.

The Nuggets led 106-98 with 6:11 to play after a 3-pointer by Morris before the Lakers got their offense going late against one of the better defensive teams in the National Basketball Association.

"It feels great; it's a win, period", said James, who got to rest in the fourth quarter with the Lakers up by as much as 27. We need to get better at that.

LeBron James and Lance Stephenson team up to power the Lakers to their second straight triumph. To be fair, all three games were against playoff-caliber teams and with a few plays going the Lakers way, all three results could have been different. He's an all-time Lakers great, what he's done for this franchise in his 20 plus years that he was here.

"We stuck to the game plan", James said.

Jokic had 11 points and six rebounds for the Nuggets in the first half, but Denver was just 3-of-14 from 3-point range in the first two quarters.

Devin Booker led the Suns with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists but left the game in the third quarter with a sore hamstring.

James had 28 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds while leading a late rally for his first home victory with the Lakers, 128-111 over the previously unbeaten Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

They were also missing Brandon Ingram who was slapped with a four-game ban for starting the melee, then, after being separated, charging back into the kerfuffle and throwing a wild sucker punch from behind at an unsuspecting Houston player.

Phoenix committed eight turnovers in the second quarter, resulting in 15 Lakers points.

Nikola Jokic scored 24 points for the Nuggets, who were off to their best start since the 2009-10 season.

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

Removing this year's preseason game from the equation, the last time that James faced the Nuggets he delivered one of the most clutch performances of his entire career. Harden scored a team-high 29.

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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