DENVER (AP) — 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 victory Wednesday night.
The Lakers dropped to 0-4 under new coach Darvin Ham. They remain in the company of Orlando and Sacramento as the only teams yet to win this season.
Trailing by two moments into the second half, the Nuggets went on a 29-9 to grab control. Or so it looked. The Lakers worked their way back and cut it to single digits in the fourth. But Murray hit a 3-pointer – his only one in seven attempts – for some breathing room.
Anthony Davis, dealing with lower back tightness, had 22 points and 14 rebounds for Los Angeles. LeBron James had 19 points to run his double-digit streak to 1,100 games. Russell Westbrook was held out to rest a sore left hamstring.
Jokic finished an assist shy of a triple-double.
Struggling with his long-range jumper, Murray found his touch in close and finished with 13 points. He showed flashes of his explosiveness as he works his way back from a knee injury.
In the third quarter, the Nuggets saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope turn his left ankle on a layup and leave for the locker room. He had 13 points.
It’s been a tough start for Lakers, who entered the game as the worst-shooting squad in the NBA. They shot 45.7% from the field against Denver.
It’s also been a tough beginning for Ham, the player-turned-coach who was brought on board over the summer after serving as an assistant in Milwaukee. Ham picked up a technical in the fourth quarter for arguing a call.
Lakers: Ham said the team will take a precautionary route with Westbrook’s hamstring. … Lonnie Walker IV had 15 points.
Nuggets: F Michael Porter Jr. was out with what the team called ”lumbar spine injury management.” … Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog was in the crowd. He’s recovering from knee surgery.
Lakers forward Juan Toscano-Anderson considers Westbrook in the top-five of all the teammates he’s had.
”Just who he is. How supportive he is. How present he is. How helpful he is. Just how team-building he is,” Toscano-Anderson explained. ”He’s always so positive, which is kind of funny based off all the stuff he goes through on a day-to-day basis. … He’s just a regular dude, man. He’s very good at basketball.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone joked about his team’s lackluster rim protection: ”We’re allowing 78% at the rim, which in a league of 30 teams ranks 60th.”
Lakers: At Minnesota on Friday night.
Nuggets: Host Utah on Friday night.