Anthony Davis led the efforts of the Los Angeles Lakers in game one of the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at Ball Arena. The Nuggets entered the series with a 6-0 record at home during postseason play, while the Lakers have won Game 1’s on the road in each of their previous two series. This game one, despite the best efforts of Anthony Davis and the Lakers, resulted in a loss to the Denver Nuggets, 126-132.
Davis scored 40 points, had ten rebounds, three steals, and two blocks, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the Nuggets, who began the game on fire. The Nuggets took a 72-54 lead into halftime. Nuggets star and two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists at the half. Nikola Jokic recorded his sixth triple-double during these playoffs with 34 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists. He scored his triple-double with six minutes left in the third quarter. His teammates Jamal Murray and Bruce Brown complimented his efforts combining for 31 points.
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The Nuggets continued their command of the game well into the second half. The Lakers were down by 21 points but refused to roll over, answering with a fourth-quarter rally, a 9-0 run to cut the Nuggets lead to 124-121. The Lakers stayed within 3 points into the final minute of the game.
“Yeah, it took us a half to get into the game,” Lakers star LeBron James said, “and that was pretty much the ballgame right there. They punched us in the mouth to start. I know the game is won in 48 minutes, but they set the tone in 24 minutes, and we were playing catch-up for the next 24.”
LeBron James posted 26 points and 12 rebounds but missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Austin Reaves added 23 points, eight assists, and two rebounds, and Rui Hachimura contributed 17 points. The team shot 54.8% from the field.
Coach Darvin Ham made a significant game adjustment as the team focused on slowing Jokic down. Hachimura guarded Jokic in the fourth quarter allowing Davis to make things harder for Jokic to dominate the paint. This move may benefit the team as they move forward in the series.
After the loss, James had this to say:
“We’ll be better. We know we didn’t play up to our capabilities in the first half…but you know we’ll be better in Game 2, that’s for sure.”
In his postgame interview, Jokic paid respect to Davis, calling him:
“One of the most talented players in the league.”
Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals takes place Thursday at Ball Arena.