Jamal Murray sparked the Denver Nuggets in the final minutes to a 114-106 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday after the Lakers unveiled a statue in tribute to the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
Murray had 29 points and a game-high 11 assists with seven rebounds while Nikola Jokic contributed 24 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists and Michael Porter Jr. added 27 points to lead the Nuggets, who share the Western Conference lead with Minnesota at 36-16.
The Lakers erased a 15-point deficit down the stretch but the defending NBA champions closed with a 10-2 run to collect their seventh triumph in a row in games against the Lakers.
“They fought the whole way and it took us staying disciplined for 48 minutes,” Murray said. “It was a good team win.”
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and 18-time NBA All-Star, played for the Lakers from 1996-2016 before he died in a 2020 helicopter crash.
The 19-foot (5.79m) bronze statue, weighing 4,000 pounds, shows superstar guard Bryant in his number 8 Lakers jersey with his right index finger raised in the air. It stands outside the Lakers home arena, where Bryant delivered many of his greatest performances.
“This statue may look like Kobe, but really, it’s what excellence looks like,” said Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, praising Bryant’s “timeless” greatness.
The Lakers, whose three-game win streak was snapped, wore “Black Mamba” jerseys in tribute to Bryant but couldn’t complete a fightback.
Denver never trailed, leading by as many as 15 points, but the Lakers tied the game late at 104-104 on an Austin Reaves 3-pointer.
Murray answered with a 3-pointer, a rebound and a jumper and Porter added a 3-pointer to ignite a 10-0 Denver run that sealed matters.
“I missed my last two on some good looks so they just told me knock the next one down with confidence,” Murray said. “That’s what got us sparked.”
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 32 points and grabbed nine rebounds while LeBron James added 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Stephen Curry scored 42 points, hitting 11 of 16 3-point shots and 15 of 22 overall, to spark Golden State over host Indiana 131-109.
It marked Curry’s 13th career game with 11 or more 3-point baskets, an NBA record, after he started the contest with 7 of 7 from beyond the arc for the first time in his career.
“We felt we could get off to a hot start like that, give us some energy,” Curry said. “Total team effort from there.”
Golden State stands 24-25 after a third straight victory.
Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards scored 26 points and passed off nine assists to ignite the Timberwolves to a 129-105 victory at Milwaukee to share the West lead with Denver.
Donovan Mitchell scored 27 points and Evan Mobley added 14 points and 12 rebounds to power Cleveland over host Brooklyn 118-95 — stretching the Cavaliers’ win streak to eight games.
Dallas guard Luka Doncic scored 39 points, passed off 11 assists, grabbed eight rebounds and made four steals to spark the visiting Mavericks over shorthanded New York 122-108.
“We played great,” Slovenian star Doncic said. “We had to stay aggressive the whole game and keep playing our defense.”
British swingman O.G. Anunoby of the Knicks underwent successful right elbow surgery but will miss at least three weeks.
Durant sparks Suns
Kevin Durant had 31 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocked shots while Bradley Beal added 30 points and seven assists to lead the Phoenix Suns over visiting Utah 129-115.
The Suns, missing All-Star guard Devin Booker due to a sore left hip, improved to 31-21, fifth in the West.
German forward Franz Wagner scored 34 points to lead the Orlando Magic over host San Antonio 127-111.
DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points and Andre Drummond added 21 off the bench to lead Chicago’s 118-110 victory at Memphis.
Jalen Duren had 27 points and 22 rebounds to lead Detroit’s 128-122 overtime victory at Portland, spoiling Jerami Grant’s 49-point performance.
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