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LeBron James makes Los Angeles Lakers debut

By Alex Butler
LeBron James makes Los Angeles Lakers debut
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James participates in Lakers media day on September 24 at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, Calif. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- LeBron James made his Los Angeles Lakers debut, scoring nine points in a 124-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

James also logged three rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes of action on Sunday at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. He entered the game with 3:02 remaining in the first quarter. The four-time NBA MVP also provided a highlight reel bounce pass helper to Kyle Kuzma.

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"Of course you take something from it ... It's good to go against a different opponent instead of each other," James told reporters. "We knew there would be times where we would struggle or not move the ball as we would like to ... a couple breakdowns defensively. But it's good to have those things that you can work on. You have something to look forward to."

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James missed his first shot against the Nuggets, putting up an errant turnaround fadeaway look at the 11:35 mark in the first frame. James assisted a Brandon Ingram dunk at the 10:03 mark for his first Lakers helper.

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He picked up his first points in purple and yellow about a minute later. James took a tap-out pass from Rajon Rondo on the play before rising and sinking a deep 3-pointer, giving the Lakers a 9-6 lead at the 9:12 mark.

James picked up another assist on an Ingram turnaround fadeaway shot at the 8:25 mark. He picked up two more points at the free throw line before taking a break at the 3:02 mark in the opening frame.

He returned to the game at 7:21 in the second quarter, coming in for Ingram. He picked up his third assist of the game at the 5:44 mark in the quarter, feeding McGee for a floater. He made two free throws once again before sinking another 3-pointer at the 2:53 point in the second quarter for his final points of the night.

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James went to the bench again, replaced by Kuzma 59 seconds before halftime. He did not play in the second half.

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McGee led the Lakers with 17 points and seven rebounds. Ingram logged 16 points, four rebounds and an assist. Kuzma also chipped in 15 points in the loss.

Juan Hernangomez scored a game-high 19 points for the Nuggets. He also had five rebounds and an assist. Jamaal Murray had 18 points and two rebounds in the win.

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Lakers coach Luke Walton said he spoke with James before the game about the limited playing time.

"It was awesome. When you are coaching the Lakers and you look out and see LeBron wearing your team's colors it's a pretty good feeling," Walton said.

James signed with the Lakers in July. The three-time NBA champion played his first seven seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers before signing with the Miami Heat in 2010. He returned to the Cavaliers in 2014, helping the franchise win a championship in 2016.

"It always feels different for me anytime you change uniforms," James said. "It felt different when I changed from wearing St. Vincent-St. Mary to a Cavaliers jersey, from a Cavs jersey to a Heat jersey then back to a Cavs jersey and now being a Laker. It definitely feels different and will take a little bit of time getting used to."

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The Lakers have five preseason games remaining before facing the Portland Trail Blazers to open the season on Oct. 18 at Moda Center in Portland. The Lakers face the Houston Rockets in their first home game on Oct. 20 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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