The Los Angeles Lakers got off to a sloppy start, saw their small-ball lineup again exposed in the middle, and were unable to hold off the Denver Nuggets in the second half of a 113-111 loss. The Lakers failed to get a shot off on their final possession.
LeBron James didn’t disappoint in his first home game at Staples Center, which he admitted to be excited over. James only played 15 minutes but scored 13 points on a blistering 5-of-6 shooting, to go along with three rebounds and three assists.
James logged nine of his minutes in the first quarter, and like in the preseason opener, did not play in the second half.
The Lakers started the third quarter on a 7-0 spurt that extended their lead to a game-high 18 points. However, the Nuggets managed to climb back into it, largely against a Lakers second unit that had little-to-no experience in sharing the court together.
New intro and LeBron James introduced at Staples Center as a member of the Lakers for the first time. pic.twitter.com/Kx1pxj2aqm
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) October 3, 2018
Denver trimmed their deficit to just four points by the end of the third quarter and took the lead a couple minutes into the fourth. In addition to James essentially not being available, Lakers head coach Luke Walton opted to sit Kyle Kuzma.
He went to the locker room late in the third quarter because of leg cramps but returned to the bench and was available. Kuzma finished with seven points, three rebounds and two assists in 19 minutes of action.
Walton emptied his bench just over midway through the fourth quarter, and while Lance Stephenson managed to lead the group in being competitive, the Nuggets made enough baskets late to hang on for a win.
Josh Hart had an quality showing in his first chance to start, pouring in 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting. If there was an area for improvement, Hart connected on just two of his eight 3-pointers.