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LeBron reaches 40,000 points, but Jokic, Nuggets use finishing kick to beat Lakers 124-114

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James reached 40,000 points, but Nikola Jokic had 35 points and 10 rebounds and the Denver Nuggets made a late push to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 124-114 on Saturday night.

Aaron Gordon hit a 3-pointer with 3:49 remaining to put Denver back in front, and the Nuggets closed on a 19-6 run for their sixth straight win. Michael Porter Jr. made all 10 of his shots to finish with 25 points, Jamal Murray had 24 points and 11 assists, and Gordon ended up with 18 points.

“I don’t think it matters who we’re playing and what night it is, we're coming to win, and we're taking care of business the way we're supposed to," said Justin Holiday, who tied it at 108 with 4:29 remaining.

James had 26 points and nine assists while checking off his latest milestone, but the Lakers couldn’t get their third straight win. Rui Hachimura had 23 points, and Anthony Davis added 17 points and 11 rebounds as all five Los Angeles starters had at least 17 points.

James spun around Porter and drove the lane to hit a layup with 10:39 left in the second quarter to reach 40,000 points as he tries to put the career scoring record out of reach.

“Being the first player to do something, it’s pretty cool in this league, just knowing the history, the greats that’s come through the league and then you see some of the greats on the floor tonight, it was great to compete,” James said. “But for me, the main thing, as always, is to win, and I hated that it had to happen in a defeat.”

James received a standing ovation at the next timeout, while coach Darvin Ham gave him a congratulatory pat on the chest as he came to the sideline. There was an in-arena video presentation, which was preceded and followed by James raising the ball over his head to the delight of fans, many of whom were wearing his Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat or St. Vincent–St. Mary High School jerseys.

“Man, you look at a lot of great players that have played this game, and no one was even close to 40,” Davis said. “Obviously, it's a great moment, obviously it would be better if we get the win.”

The two teams were essentially even through the first 44 minutes before Denver used the one-two punch of Jokic and Murray, with spacing and shot-making around them, to excel in crunch time.

“I think we got a lot of guys who feel comfortable under pressure,” Porter said. “You got Nikola, the best player in the world. You know, Jamal with the ball in his hands a lot. And then you got shooters who are ready to knock down shots under pressure time, so just a lot of guys that are comfortable in those situations.”

The Nuggets swept the three-game season series, leaving James to admit “they have our number.

“It's always kind of the fourth quarter, the last six minutes or the last few minutes of the game,” he said. “They make plays, we don't make plays, and that can be frustrating.”

UP NEXT

Nuggets: Host Phoenix on Tuesday night.

Lakers: Host Oklahoma City on Monday night.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Dan Greenspan, The Associated Press