With Kobe Bryant watching from the stands for the first time since James's arrival in Los Angeles, the former Cleveland Cavalier James brought the Staples Center crowd to their feet with a go-ahead dunk with 3:31 to play.
James flirted with what would have been his 74th career triple-double, finishing with 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter of a 131-113 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
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. One night after seven Lakers scored in double figures, they had six such players, including all five starters and 21 from JaVale McGee to give him back-to-back games with at least 20 points.
Hart, who tied the game at 108 with 3:49 minutes left, finished with 12 points, while Stephenson also scored 12, highllighted by back-to-back triples that fueled the Lakers' comeback from 8 points down late in the 4th quarter.
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Nikola Jokic scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Nuggets, who fell to 4-1.
Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker, meanwhile, was already in the locker room as the Lakers finished off a game in the desert filled with Hollywood highlights. Wednesday night was the first of a three-game suspension for Rondo and a four-game suspension for Ingram. The game was a seesaw affair throughout, but the Lakers wrested control of the game in the final four minutes.
Ingram will miss one more game for his role in the Lakers' brawl with the Houston Rockets last weekend, while Rondo can return Saturday in San Antonio. As the Denver defense gravitated toward James with the clock winding down, he zipped the ball cross-court in the opposite corner to Ball, who then instantly shuttled it over to Kyle Kuzma for an open 3-pointer on the wing. Bryant spoke to a group of season ticket holders before the game about his forthcoming book. "He was like, 'Good game, ' after the game, so I was a little hyped".