LOS ANGELES, United States, Oct 25 – LeBron James had 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as Los Angeles clobbered the Phoenix Suns 131-113, giving the four-time MVP his first win as a Laker.
James scored all his points in three quarters and likely would have posted his 74th career triple double if he hadn’t sat out the fourth with the game already in hand.
But this Laker win, he said, was by committee as seven players reached double figures.
“It feels great to win, period,” he said. “But it feels good for us to know that what we have been doing over training camp and these first few games of the season that we are continuing to get better.
“We got better tonight and we are going to try and continue that going forward.”
Lance Stephenson had 23 points, JaVale McGee added 20 points, and Kyle Kuzma 17 for the Lakers.
James signed with the Lakers three months ago after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to four straight NBA final appearances, including their first championship in 2016.
James joins a Lakers club that has missed the playoffs in each of their last five seasons, the longest playoff drought in franchise history for the 16-time NBA champions.
“We stuck to the game plan,” James said. “We were able to get them out of it in the later stages of the first quarter, and then took it into the second quarter and into the half, all the way to the end of the game.”
Devin Booker led the Suns with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists but left the game in the third quarter with a sore hamstring. Deandre Ayton, the first draft pick this year, had 22 points and 11 rebounds.
Los Angeles was without suspended guard Rajon Rondo for his role in a heated fist fight with Houston Rockets Chris Paul on Saturday night.
They were also missing Brandon Ingram who was slapped with a four-game ban for starting the melee, then, after being separated, charging back into the kerfuffle and throwing a wild sucker punch from behind at an unsuspecting Houston player.
Phoenix committed four turnovers in a 17-2 Los Angeles outburst that put the Lakers up 63-43 with 3:51 left in the first half.
The Lakers led 76-54 at the break and Phoenix never got closer than 16 in the third quarter.
Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard scored a season-high 35 points to help the Toronto Raptors improve to 5-0 with a 112-105 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, equalling their best start in franchise history.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 16 points, Serge Ibaka had 15 and Norman Powell added 10 for the Raptors, who also won five straight to start the 2015-16 season.
Jimmy Butler scored 23 points, Derrick Rose had 16 and Taj Gibson 13 for Minnesota.
In Houston, Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points to power the Utah Jazz to a 100-89 win over the Rockets who struggled without the suspended Paul and then they lost James Harden, the reigning NBA MVP, in the fourth quarter with an injury.
– Harden hurt –
Harden, who is expected to be looked at by team doctors on Thursday, said his hamstring is sore but the injury is not serious. “Just being cautious,” he said.
With Harden out the game, the Jazz regained control, scoring the next 10 points to make it 94-79 and cruised to victory.
The Rockets had to rely on 34-year-old Carmelo Anthony who finished with 22 points. Harden scored a team-high 29.
Paul finished up a two-game suspension for his role in the fight with Lakers Rondo.
In Atlanta, Kent Bazemore scored 32 points as the Atlanta Hawks rallied from a 26 point first half deficit to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 111-104.
Bazemore delivered a clutch monster dunk with just over a minute to go and Trae Young contributed 17 points in the win.