DENVER (AP) — LeBron James has been compared to Michael Jordan for his entire career, though on Tuesday night it was Anthony Davis who emulated the Hall of Famer.
Davis, ailing from flu-like symptoms, took an IV at halftime and then scored 13 of his 25 points in the third quarter to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 105-96 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
James also had 25 points, nine assists and a crucial dunk off a miss late in the fourth quarter to clinch a matchup of the top two teams in the Western Conference.
Jordan's legend grew when he played through the flu in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, leading the Chicago Bulls to the win and eventually their fifth title in seven years. Tuesday's game was just the 20th of the season for the Lakers but Davis' effort still impressed his coach.
"For him to play through illness and have that kind of performance was something special," coach Frank Vogel said.
Davis missed the morning film session and his status for the game was questionable until before tip. He showed no effects of the illness, scoring most of the Lakers 24 points in the third quarter. He also had 10 rebounds and helped to hold Nuggets center Nikola Jokic to 13 points.
He played nearly 37 minutes after trying to recover for most of the day.
"Sleep. That's really it. Sleep and a couple of medicine things here and there," he said of the treatment he took. "The IV at halftime was trying a way to keep going."
Jamal Murray scored 22 points and Paul Millsap had 21 points and eight rebounds. Jokic added eight assists but wasn't the only one struggling on offense. Denver shot 40.7% and failed to reach 100 points for the second straight game.
"We got the looks we wanted but just didn't hit some shots," Murray said.
Both teams were coming off losses that ended long winning streaks, but it was Los Angeles that bounced back behind James and Davis and a 56-35 advantage in rebounding. The Nuggets nearly came back in the final minutes.
The Lakers led by 10 midway through the fourth before Denver rallied to get within a point with 2:23 left. But the Nuggets didn't score again. The Lakers hit three free throws and James slammed home Davis' missed layup with 1:15 remaining.
"They're one of the top teams to come back from double-digit deficits in the second half," James said. "We knew they were going to make a run. A very good team at home and we just kept our composure."
Denver has lost two in a row for the second time this season and fell to 8-3 at home.
"They are a better team than us right now," Millsap said. "We didn't bring our best game but we were still in the game. If we could have knocked those shots down it would have been a totally different ballgame."
AROUND THE NBA TUESDAY
The Miami Heat have ended Toronto’s seven-game winning streak and became the first team to knock off the Raptors in Canada this season. Jimmy Butler had a triple-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists as the Heat outlasted the Raptors, 121-110 in overtime. Butler scored eight consecutive points in 55 seconds to begin the extra session. He bailed out the Heat after they coughed up a seven-point lead in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. Duncan Robinson scored 22 points Bam Adebayo scored 18 points as Miami dropped Toronto to 9-1 at home. Norman Powell had a team-high 23 points and Pascal Siakam (see-A’-kam) added 15 points with 12 rebounds for the Raptors.
Montrez Harrell scored 26 points and Paul George added 25 in the Clippers 117-97 thumping of the Trail Blazers. Kawhi Leonard added 11 points in helping extend the Clippers’ franchise-best start at home to 13-1.
The Spurs overcame James Harden’s 50 points by rallying from a late 10-point deficit to beat the Rockets, 135-133 in double overtime. Lonnie Walker IV had a career-high 28 points and DeMar DeRozan added 23 points, nine assists and five rebounds in San Antonio’s second straight home win.
Luka Doncic scored 15 of his 33 points in the third quarter and grabbed 18 rebounds in just 28 minutes to power the Mavericks to a 118-97 rout of the Pelicans. Doncic had 12 points the first quarter and then broke open a three-point game by scoring 15 of the Mavericks’ 25 points in the final 9:18 of the third
D.J. Augustin added 16 of his 24 in the fourth quarter of the Magic’s 127-120 verdict over the Wizards. Evan Fournier had a team-high 31 points against Washington, which lost for the fifth time in six games despite Bradley Beal’s 42 points.
Blake Griffin was 6-for-7 from 3-point range while scoring 24 points in the Pistons’ 127-94 victory over the Cavaliers. Andre Drummond had 17 points and 14 rebounds for Detroit, which has won two straight for the first time this season.