LeBron James hailed the efforts of Lonzo Ball and Lance Stephenson after the Los Angeles Lakers came from eight points down in the final quarter to beat the Denver Nuggets and make it two wins in two nights.
Twenty-four hours on from recording their first win of the season against the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers got off the mark at home – triumphing 121-114 with James recording his first triple-double for the franchise.
Yet although James’ contribution of 28 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds was central to his side’s success, the four-time NBA MVP was eager to highlight the efforts of his team-mates.
Ball chipped in with 12 points, eight assists, six rebounds and five steals in a superb all-round display, prompting James to tell reporters: “He was great again tonight.
“He’s a very gifted basketball player, a very cerebral basketball player. He’s got some of the quickest hands that this league has, and I think a lot of people always try to discredit what he can do offensively, but they never give him enough credit for what he does defensively.
“Tonight he had five steals, every time he’s in the line-up, he has two, three, four steals, deflections, all those things, and helping us get on the break. When he’s aggressive offensively, it just opens up everything for our ball club.”
On Stephenson, James said: “When Lance steps on the floor, he’s a spark for us. He doesn’t have to score to make an impact, but he’s done it the last two nights. He’s worked wonders for our team, that’s for sure.
“He kind of sparked us when we fell in that hole early in the fourth quarter. His tenacity and his competitive nature just kind of brought us back into that game. It was a huge win for us.”
Lakers icon Kobe Bryant watched Thursday’s game from courtside and James added: “Of course you notice him sitting right there on the baseline. He’s an all-time Lakers great, what he’s done for this franchise in his 20 plus years that he was here.
“For me to be able to compete against him for all those years and then share the same jersey as him at this point is pretty special… and for him to take the time out to come and watch us play tonight was pretty cool.”