Two-time defending NBA MVP Nikola Jokic dominated on Wednesday night, nearly racking up a triple-double with 31 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and four steals in the Denver Nuggets’ 110-99 victory against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers, who are now 0-4 on the season.
It’s the fourth time in franchise history that the Lakers have started a season with an 0-4 record, and they sit alongside the Sacramento Kings and the Orlando Magic as the NBA’s only winless teams this campaign.
LeBron James, who hasn’t lost his first four games of a season since his rookie year, had 19 points, seven rebounds and nine assists – but committed eight turnovers – for the Lakers, while Anthony Davis had 22 points and 14 rebounds on the night.
With the game tied at 54-54 at halftime, the Nuggets pulled away in the third quarter of Wednesday’s game as they outscored the Lakers 32-17.
Nuggets forward Bruce Brown scored 18 points and Jamal Murray had 13 – including a big three-pointer to give Denver a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“I felt that third quarter was one of our best quarters in a very short season,” Nuggets head coach Mike Malone told reporters after the game.
“We got the win, but more importantly, we got the win playing how we need to play,” he added. “Defending, ball is flying, getting out and running off of our defense, so something to build upon.”
The Nuggets, now 3-2 on the season, had Kentavious Caldwell-Pope leave the game in the third quarter after twisting his ankle, and Malone said the team would reassess the extent of the injury on Thursday.
The Lakers, meanwhile, were without Russell Westbrook on Wednesday as he recovers from a hamstring injury, with coach Darvin Ham saying they didn’t want to put the guard in a “vulnerable position.”
According to ESPN, the Lakers, who shot 8-for-30 from three-point range against the Nuggets, have the worst three-point shooting start by any team in NBA history with at least 100 attempts through four games.
“We gotta make some shots,” Lakers superstar James said after the game, “Some of it is early season stuff, obviously. You know, like I said, it’s a new system, it’s a new group of guys together. We’re still trying to get familiar with one another.”
“We’re four games in, it sucks to lose, but having 78 games left, there’s plenty of time for us to right the ship, and it starts now,” said Ham.
The Lakers next play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday in a bid to turn their season around, while the Nuggets host the Utah Jazz.