PHOENIX - After an angry Luke Walton held nothing back on his team's poor defense at the morning team meeting, the Los Angeles Lakers responded to their coach and rode a dominant second quarter to their first victory of the season.
The sophomore point guard finished with 12 points, eight assists, six rebounds and an eye-popping five steals.
The Staples Center crowd started a 'Kobe!
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. Los Angeles will still be without Rondo, who is serving a three-game suspension, and Ingram, who is suspended for four games, for their roles in a fight with Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets on Saturday.
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. Deandre Ayton, the first draft pick this year, had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
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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. "That is what we will continue to harp on throughout the season is our defensive approach", James said. "We picked up where we left off and got this win".
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. "So for him to take the time out to come watch us play tonight was pretty cool". LeBron discusses the important of Lance Stephenson sparking the team the last two nights, the Lakers starting the season with 8 games in 11 days and the key to sharing the ball.
But Phoenix committed four turnovers in a 17-2 Los Angeles outburst that put the Lakers up 63-43 on Josh Hart's running dunk with 3:51 left in the first half. Bryant spoke to a group of season ticket holders before the game about his forthcoming book.
"This is what I want to say about the asthma", McGee said when asked about it after the game. "When we get to that threshold of greatness that we can be at, I feel like we're going to be unstoppable".