By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer
DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored a season-high 34 points, Nikola Jokic recorded his 11th triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 122-109 on Monday night in a game where LeBron James sat out due to a sore left ankle.
Jokic finished with 14 points — on 5 of 5 shooting — grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 16 assists to help the Nuggets win their 11th straight home game. It’s their longest home streak since capturing 12 in a row in 2018.
Denver remains tied with Memphis for the top spot in the Western Conference.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “The guys came to work with a work mindset. Everybody stepped up and their job.”
Russell Westbrook finished with 25 and Thomas Bryant added 17 along with 10 boards for the Lakers, who saw their five-game winning streak halted.
James was ruled out hours before tipoff, joining injured forward Anthony Davis (right foot) on the bench. Patrick Beverley didn’t play after halftime due to a hip injury.
The Lakers entered the game without Troy Brown Jr. (strained left quadriceps), Austin Reaves (strained hamstring strain) and Lonnie Walker IV (knee tendinitis).
“Kudos our guys — they kept fighting and just had a couple bad turnovers, couple balls that didn’t go our way, couple shots didn’t go down,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “The group that was out there, they were competitive, then gave it their all until we couldn’t give anymore.”
Leading by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets saw the Lakers make a mini-run. But Murray calmed things down with a 3-pointer.
Murray’s scoring spree was another big step as the point guard rounds back into form from a torn ACL that caused him to miss all of last season.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone challenged his team to keep their intensity high against a banged-up Lakers squad.
“You have to fight human nature when a team is out LeBron … and all of those guys,” Malone said. “You can’t relax.”
Lakers: G Kendrick Nunn had 15 points. … G Dennis Schroder was called for a technical in the third quarter.
Nuggets: F Zeke Nnaji turned 22 on Monday. … The Nuggets were called for two delay of game technical fouls. … Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 16 points and Bruce Brown 15. … It was Jokic’s 87th career triple-double.
The Lakers are starting the ramp-up process for Davis when they return home.
“There are different benchmarks built within the process of the upcoming weeks and if he meets those marks and checks off those boxes, then he’ll be back on the court,” Ham said. “Am I willing to put a timetable on it? No.”
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
James was named Western Conference player of the week Monday. He averaged 35 points, 8.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists over his last three games.
The 38-year-old James is 35 points away from joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as members of the NBA’s 38,000-point club.
Lakers: Start a five-game homestand Thursday against Dallas.
Nuggets: Host Phoenix on Wednesday.
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