LeBron James’ Lakers fall to 0-4 after being beaten by the Nuggets

DENVER — A team led by LeBron James doesn’t often start 0-4. Since his rookie season, one of his teams hasn’t stumbled across the starting grid like this.

“It’s a new system. It’s a new group of guys together,” James explained. « We always try to get to know each other. »

Nikola Jokic had 31 points and 13 rebounds, Jamal Murray hit a big 3-pointer, and the Denver Nuggets kept the Los Angeles Lakers winless with a 110-99 win Wednesday night.

The Lakers remain in the company of Orlando and Sacramento as the only teams to have won again this season.

« We’re four games away and it sucks to lose, but we have 78 games left, » said new Lakers coach Darvin Ham. “We have plenty of time to right the ship. And it starts now.

Trailing by two seconds in the second half, the Nuggets went 29-9 to take control. The Lakers worked their way back and cut it to single digits in fourth, but Murray hit a 3-pointer — his only attempt in seven — for some breathing room.

Anthony Davis, struggling with lower back strain, had 22 points and 14 rebounds for Los Angeles. LeBron James had 19 points to lead his double-digit streak to 1,100 games. Russell Westbrook was held back to rest a sore left hamstring.

LeBron James pulls his jersey over his eyes in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ 110-99 loss to the Nuggets.

Jokic completed a pass before a triple-double. But it was the 31 points that surprised Bruce Brown. He had no idea back-to-back MVP had erupted yet.

« It was a quiet 31, » cracked Brown, who finished with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. « Nobody can keep it. »

For his big night, Jokic is looking no further than James, who motivated him to stay focused on the laser.

« LeBron is the best player on the planet, » Jokic said. « I like to compete with the best »

LeBron James rolls over Aaron Gordon in the Lakers loss.
LeBron James rolls over Aaron Gordon in the Lakers loss.
Getty Images

Struggling with his long-range jumper, Murray found his close touch and finished with 13 points. He showed flashes of his explosiveness as he returned from a knee injury. He also received a first pep talk from coach Michael Malone.

« I just walked up to him in huddle, gave him a big hug and said, ‘Hey man, big picture. I believe in you. I love you. I know who you are and I know where you’re going to be at some point,” Malone said.

At the end of the third quarter, the Nuggets saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope twist his left ankle on a layup and leave for the locker room. He had 13 points.

It was a rocky start for the Lakers, who entered the game as the worst shooting team in the NBA. They shot 44.4% from the field against Denver.

It was also a rough start for Ham, the player-turned-coach who was signed in the summer after serving as an assistant at Milwaukee. Ham recovered a technical in the fourth quarter for contesting a call.

“Not really about another team right now, scouts or schemes – just go out there and do it for 48 minutes to get a win,” Davis said. “All we have to do. This is the first step. We can build on that.


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