LeBron James is a Laker, and in his fresh threads of purple and gold, the King assembled his court for a preseason opener against the Denver Nuggets.
The new era for the Lakers commenced as James was announced last in a starting lineup featuring Brandon Ingram, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Rajon Rondo. James’ first points as a Laker came on a 26-foot three-pointer, to which the fans in the Valley View Casino Center erupted.
As head coach Luke Walton looked for signs of cohesion amongst a wide variety of rotations, the Lakers could not find stops against Denver’s top-ten offense and fell to the Nuggets, 124-107. In his 15 minutes on the floor, James finished with nine points, three rebounds, and three assists.
Brandon Ingram had a hot hand from the jump, going 4-of-5 from the field with eight points, although the Lakers trailed 34-28 at the end of the first quarter.
The Nuggets shot over 42 percent from three in the first half, and the Lakers were down 66-54 heading into the locker room.
But with James sitting to start the second half, the Lakers opened the third on a 15-3 run to tie the game at 69. McGee led the charge with emphatic finishes on lobs. He finished with a team-high 17 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes, going 8-10 from the floor.
With the Lakers trailing 96-88 at the end of the three, the Nuggets jumped out to a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. Four Lakers finished the game in double digits. Ingram put up 16 points on 50 percent shooting. Kyle Kuzma had 15 points and Lance Stephenson went 4-of05 from the field, finishing with 12 points.
The Lakers will get a chance to watch film, make adjustments, and apply them against the Nuggets in their second game of the preseason on Tuesday at the Staples Center.