DENVER • LeBron James has been compared to Michael Jordan for his entire National Basketball Association (NBA) career, though on Tuesday night it was Anthony Davis who emulated the Hall of Famer.
Davis, ailing from flu-like symptoms, took an intravenous drip at half-time and then scored 13 of his 25 points in the third quarter to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 105-96 road victory over the Denver Nuggets.
James also had 25 points, nine assists and a crucial dunk late in the fourth quarter to trump their Western Conference rivals.
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 the Lakers' (18-3) 21st this season but Davis' effort still impressed his coach.
"For him to play through illness and have that kind of performance was special," Frank Vogel said.
Davis missed the morning film session and his status for the game was questionable until tip-off.
But he showed no effects of illness, scoring most of the Lakers' 24 points in the third quarter. He also had 10 rebounds and held Nuggets centre 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 half-time was trying a way to keep going. Just tried to fight (for the team)."
Jamal Murray scored 22 points for the Nuggets (13-5) and Paul Millsap had 21 points and eight rebounds.
25 LeBron James and Anthony Davis had identical statistics in the game - playing 37 minutes; scoring 25 points apiece, nine of 18 from the field.
Jokic added eight assists but was not the only one struggling on offence. His team shot 40.7 per cent and failed to reach 100 points for the second straight game.
Both teams were coming off losses that ended long winning streaks, but it was Los Angeles who bounced back, after Sunday's 114-100 loss to the Dallas Mavericks halted their 10-game run.
The Nuggets, though, nearly fought back in the final minutes.
The Lakers led by 10 midway through the fourth before Denver rallied to get within a point with 2min 23sec left.
But the Nuggets did not score again. The Lakers hit three free throws and James slammed home Davis' missed lay-up with 1min 15sec remaining.
"They're one of the top teams to come back from double-digit deficits," James said. "We knew they were going to make a run. We just kept our composure."
Following Saturday's 100-97 defeat by the Sacramento Kings, Denver have now lost two in a row for the second time this season and fell to 8-3 at home.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone was an assistant in Cleveland during James' first stint with the Cavaliers and he praised the star's sustained excellence.
"What he's doing at his age, I mean, who is surprised?" he said.
"LeBron is incredible and that's why he'll go down as one of he best players to ever play the game."
PORTLAND V SACRAMENTO
StarHub Ch217, 11am