Nikola Jokic Recorded his sixth triple-double of this playoffs with 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists, leading a strong Denver Nuggets With a 132-126 win over Los Angeles Lakers In the Western Conference Finals opener on Tuesday night.
Behind Jokic’s strong start and strong finish, W.J Jamal MurrayWith 31 points, Denver beat the Lakers in the Western Finals opener for the first time ever.
after a slow start, Anthony Davis He had 40 points and 10 rebounds, and LeBron James He finished with 26 points, 12 boards, and nine assists. Austin Reeves He had 23 points and further fueled Los Angeles’ desperate fourth-quarter series that nearly wiped out Denver’s 14-point lead after three points.
The Nuggets lead as many as 21, but the Lakers pulled within three points twice in the fourth quarter, once on a Reeves 3-pointer at 124-121 and again on James’ pair of free throws that made it 129-126 with 1:12 remaining.
After Jokic made two free throws with 26 seconds left to give Denver a 131-126 lead, Murray knocked the ball off James just as he was about to take it to the hoop and Jokic collected the loose ball before being fouled with 10.9 seconds left. He sank one of two and missed James from 3 with seconds to go.
Game two takes place Thursday night at Ball Arena, with the top-seeded Nuggets going 7-0 in the playoffs and 41-7 overall, the best home record in the league this season.
Jokic said the day before that the Nuggets desperately need to avoid following in the footsteps of sneakers Memphis Grizzlies And Golden State Warriorsand both dropped their opener at home to the Lakers and ended up losing in six games.
Moreover, James has won the last 20 playoff series in which his team has won the opener.
The Nuggets haven’t taken Game 1 against the Lakers since 1979, when they won the best-of-3 series opener only to lose the next two series. This is the closest the Nuggets have ever come to eliminating the Lakers, who have defeated Denver three times in the West Finals, including in the Florida bubble in 2020.
Flashing his MVP credentials in a stunning display of strength in the first quarter, Jokic pulled down dozens of boards and delivered five assists to go eight points. This made him the first player since at least 1997 to have a score of boards or more and at least five assists in any quarter of an NBA game.
The Lakers used an 11-2 lead to cut the deficit to 11 points before Jokic responded with a lopsided 3-pointer on Davis’ outstretched arm that barely lifted the net at the buzzer, leaving Davis to return to the bench. disbelief.
“The Joker,” who missed out on the NBA MVP Award for the third consecutive time this year when he was overtaken by Philadelphia‘s Joel EmbiidHe had 19 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks in the first half as the Nuggets led 72-54 in the locker room.
Jokic beat the Lakers himself 16-13 in the first half and the Nuggets beat Los Angeles in the playoff series opener for the first time in eight attempts.
Lots of points
A malfunctioning shot clock was repaired and returned to its proper location above the baskets in time for the second half. The malfunction forced officials to place a timer at both ends of the Ball Arena floor in the first half. I created a different kind of look for James, Jokic and the rest of the guys, who usually look a little bit from where they’re shooting to see how much time is left. In the first half, they had to look to the right side of the baseline.
Lakers: Los Angeles’ only lead came on James Bucket to open the game. … The Lakers lost to the Nuggets in the playoffs for only the ninth time in 34 attempts. … Los Angeles coach Darvin Hamm lost a late challenge, the second of the fourth quarter that took too long for officials to judge.
Nuggets: Denver grabbed 20 of the game’s first 23 rebounds. … the only player since 1997 who did what Jokic did in the first quarter was ClevelandAnderson Vargao, who is furious wizards For 12 rebounds and five assists in a regular season game in October 2012. … The Nuggets called timeout before the 10-minute mark in the fourth quarter and actually lost a point when Murray limited them by a score of 3 that was actually 2, cutting Denver’s lead to 108-100.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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