Anticipation over LeBron James taking the court for the first time with the Los Angeles Lakers became a reality Sunday night in San Diego as the team began their preseason schedule against the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets led for much of the night and ultimately pulled away for a 124-107 victory. However, as James and head coach Luke Walton have emphasized, the Lakers at this time are much more concerned about progress and developing continuity than results.
That was on display early as the moments after winning the opening tip, JaVale McGee ran toward the rim and was fed for a lob pass by Rajon Rondo. McGee went on to score a team-high 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
Brandon Ingram nearly matched that output, scoring 16 points while connecting on half of his 14 field goal attempts. Ingram added four rebounds, one assists and two steals in 27 minutes of action.
His first basket came off a no-look pass from James, who looked to be in sync with Ingram. “I find a rhythm with anybody that is very energetic offensively,” James said after his Lakers debut. “That’s a guy who moves without the ball.”
James played just 15 minutes, though it was more than initially expected. He scored nine points, adding three rebounds and three assists.
The Lakers next play on Tuesday, when they again face the Nuggets, but at Staples Center.