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Lakers topple Denver for first win of season

LOS ANGELES: LeBron James scored a game-high 26 points and the Los Angeles Lakers became the last NBA team to win a game this season, defeating Denver, 121-110, on Sunday (Monday in Manila).

Anthony Davis added 23 points and 15 rebounds while Russell Westbrook came off the bench to contribute 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the host Lakers improved to 1-5 by ending their futility run.

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers scores a three-point basket against Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022 (October 31 in Manila), in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers scores a three-point basket against Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets during the second half at Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022 (October 31 in Manila), in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO

“We needed this one,” Davis said. “We needed this for our team, our spirits, our fans, our organization. We came out and showed what we're capable of. It could be the start of a run for us.”

The 0-5 start had matched the 2014-15 Lakers for the worst in the club's history, which dates to 1947, but the victory avoided a new mark and gave coach Darvin Ham his first victory.

“It feels good to get that monkey off our back,” Davis said. “Get a win in the win column and try to get this thing going.”

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The Lakers scored their most points of any game this season and grabbed their largest lead of the campaign late in the fourth quarter to subdue the Nuggets, who fell to 4-3 despite 23 points and 14 assists by Nikola Jokic.

“When we play defense like that, we're a tough team to beat,” Davis said. “But today we made shots.”

Davis played despite a painful back injury.

“It was killing me tonight but I tried to do whatever I could do to help the team get the win,” Davis said.

Earlier in Los Angeles, Zion Williamson made a triumphant return from a right hip injury with 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for New Orleans in a 112-91 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Pelicans improved to 4-2 on the season and 3-1 when Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, is on the court.

Williamson played 31 minutes in his comeback game after he suffered the injury during a fall a week ago in a 122-121 overtime loss to Utah.

The 22-year-old American power forward was driving for a fast break layup when he was blocked by Jordan Clarkson and fell hard to the court.

“I'm fine,” Williamson said. “I'm still a little sore. I can't lie to you because that was a hard fall. But I'm fine.”

A knee injury limited Williamson to 24 games in his rookie season and he missed all of last season with a broken right foot.

So far this season, Williamson is averaging 21.8 points and 8.0 rebounds a contest.

Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points and passed off 12 assists, both game highs, to spark the host Cleveland Cavaliers over New York, 121-108.

Kevin Love added 29 points off the bench as the Cavs improved to 5-1.

“Sometimes you've got to win ugly and we did that tonight,” Love said.

Slovenian guard Luka Doncic scored 44 points to power the Dallas Mavericks to a 114-105 home victory over Orlando.

Stephen Curry scored a game-high 32 points and Jordan Poole added 30 for Golden State but the Detroit Pistons had five starters in double figures to defeat the reigning NBA champions, 128-114.

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