Nikola Jokic had 17 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds for his eighth triple-double of the season, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 133-96 on Saturday night.
Rookie Bones Hyland had career highs of 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Jeff Green scored a season-high 26 points in Denver’s second straight blowout victory. All five Nuggets starters scored in double figures.
The Lakers have lost three straight after winning four in a row. LeBron James had 24 points and nine rebounds, but made just 9 of 23 field goals. Russell Westbrook, who was just 15-for-59 shooting in the previous four games, had 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
Denver led by five after the first quarter and by 18 in the second quarter when Jokic asserted himself. He had eight points and six assists in the final 7:10 of the half and finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine assists at intermission.
Jokic notched the 65th triple-double of his career just 2:10 into the second half and sat out the final 14 minutes.
Things got testy in the third when Aaron Gordon was called for a foul on Westbrook and Westbrook took exception. Players and officials separated the players and both received technicals.
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Lakers: The 37-point loss was the largest ever against Denver. ... James has led the team in scoring in 13 straight games and 16 of the last 17. ... Carmelo Anthony missed his third straight game with a back injury.
Nuggets: Will Barton had 12 points after leaving Thursday’s game with a neck strain. ... JaMychal Green entered health and safety protocols. He also missed Thursday’s win over Portland. ... G Austin Rivers did not play due to a non-COVID related illness.
APPRECIATING THE KING
Denver coach Michael Malone watched James up close when he was an assistant in Cleveland for five years and is still impressed with what he is doing at age 37.
“Let’s not get into the stupid argument who’s the GOAT. LeBron’s a great player, he’s one of the greatest to play; leave it at that,” Malone said. “His ability to impact the game on so many levels is just remarkable. At this stage of his career to be averaging 29.1 (points), (7.4 rebounds) and (6.6 assists), be playing as many minutes as he’s playing, you sit back in awe at times.”
Lakers: Host the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
Nuggets: Host the Jazz on Sunday night.