SAN DIEGO (AFP) - LeBron James dazzled the crowd in his exhibition debut for the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday but he couldn’t get them a victory as they dropped a 124-107 decision to the Denver Nuggets.
James finished with nine points, three rebounds and four assists in just over 15 minutes of playing time in front of 13,500 fans at the Valley View Casino in San Diego.
“It was great to get back on the floor and start a new journey for myself,” he said. “It was great to hear the roar from the (San Diego) crowd.”
James was cheered throughout the contest with one of the biggest ovations coming when he emerged from the tunnel for the pre-game warmup.
He played eight minutes before sitting down on the bench.
James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for a four-year, $153 million free-agent deal with the Lakers.
Lakers fans feel James is just what the struggling team needs during its worst half-decade in history.
The Lakers’ regular-season opener is October 18 at Portland, followed two nights later by their first home game against Houston.
Meantime, Kyrie Irving scored 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and Terry Rozier had 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals as Boston defeated Charlotte, 115-112, in the NBA preseason.
Jayson Tatum had 16 points, including three 3-pointers, Marcus Morris made 4 of 6 from behind the arc and finished with 12 points, and Jaylen Brown scored 11. Gordon Hayward was just 1-of-7 shooting and had four points in 21 minutes for the Celtics (1-1).
In another game, Antonio Blakeney, Bobby Portis and Zach LaVine scored 21 points apiece as Chicago defeated New Orleans, 128-116.
The trio combined to make 24 of 42 (57 percent) from the field and 14-of-14 free throws.
Jabari Parker, who signed with Chicago as a free agent in July, had 15 points but was just 5-of-14 shooting. Kris Dunn added 12 points and rookie Wendell Carter Jr. scored 11.
In San Antonio, a new era of Spurs’ basketball has begun, with DeMar DeRozan in the lineup and some longtime legends elsewhere.
With an offseason of change behind them, the Spurs opened exhibition play with a 104-100 victory over the Miami Heat.
DeRozan started and scored seven points in 18 minutes in his first game for the Spurs since they acquired him from Toronto in the Kawhi Leonard trade.
With Leonard traded, Tony Parker signing in Charlotte and Manu Ginobili retiring, it was a far more eventful offseason than usual in San Antonio.
But it was a good start for the new pieces. Jakob Poeltl, who came with DeRozan from the Raptors, had six points and 10 rebounds.
Hassan Whiteside had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Heat.
Rudy Gay led San Antonio with 13 points, making all three 3-pointers and 5-of-6 shots in 14 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge added 10 points.