Nuggets continue mastery of Lakers to take Game 1

League: NBA

Posted on: 21 Apr, 2024 at 04:55 AM

Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Jokic had 32 points and 12 rebounds and the host Denver Nuggets opened their NBA title defense with a 114-103 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Saturday night.

Jamal Murray finished with 22 points and 10 assists to help Denver to its ninth straight win over Los Angeles, with five of those victories coming in the postseason. Michael Porter Jr. added 19 points and Aaron Gordon had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets.

"Nikola, we see it all the time, he's a great player. And the bigger the stage and brighter the lights, he just continues to shine," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said following the win. "And the same could be said for Jamal Murray. I ran him 39 minutes tonight. It was more than I would have liked to have played him, but he's another gamer."

Game 2 is Monday night in Denver.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 32 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots, and LeBron James finished with 27 points after a quiet fourth quarter. James didn't attempt a shot in the final period until there was 1:20 left and had only four points in the final 12 minutes.

"One game, they protected their home court. We have another opportunity on Monday to come back and be better," James said. "We know how challenging it's going to be. We know how difficult this opponent is and how great they are."

The Nuggets took control with a strong third quarter. Porter's 3-pointer just before the midpoint of the period gave Denver a 72-71 lead, its first advantage since the first three minutes of the game, and the Nuggets kept rolling.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored all 12 of his points in the period, including a trio of 3-pointers during a 13-0 run that helped give Denver an 89-78 lead heading into the fourth.

With Jokic on the bench, Murray hit a driving layup and a corner 3-pointer over Davis to help push the lead to 96-81 with 9:08 left in the game. The Lakers answered with an 11-2 run to cut it to 98-92 midway through the fourth, and D'Angelo Russell later missed a 3-pointer that would have made it a four-point game.

Denver made Los Angeles pay, as Porter connected from deep and Jokic had a steal and dunk to make it 108-96 with 3:41 left.

Russell and Austin Reaves finished with 13 points apiece, and Taurean Prince added 11 points for Los Angeles.

James set the tone for the Lakers with 12 points in the first quarter, and Los Angeles led by as many as 12 in the second quarter. The Nuggets used a 14-2 run to tie things at 51-all, but Los Angeles ended up taking a 60-57 edge into intermission after James knocked down a triple with 2.1 seconds left in the first half.

The Lakers went to the foul line 19 times, making 17 free throws. The Nuggets were 5-for-6 from the charity stripe.

--Field Level Media