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Nuggets use huge runs to topple scrappy Lakers in Game 1

DENVER – It was another back-and-forth game between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers, as has been the case for some time, the Mile High City squad pulling away in the second half to take Game 1 114-103 to win.

It was the Nuggets’ ninth straight win over the Lakers, including last year’s sweep of the Western Conference Finals – with most of those games coming in close quarters. And there were more signs of Denver domination during the first 48 minutes of this year’s first round.

Denver was actually down 12 in the second quarter of the game before Michael Porter Jr. finally got a triple in cash. It broke the dam for the Denver, who raced to an extended 52-29 stretch to close the second and third quarters, highlighted by an 8-0 run at the start and a 13-0 run at the end .

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had some huge moments, lighting up the Ball Arena crowd four three-pointers in the third quarter, including draws and big lead-extending shots.

LeBron James was phenomenal in the first half, scoring 27 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while Anthony Davis battled with soon-to-be MVP Nikola Jokic for a while. The two Lakers stars took advantage of two early fouls on Arron Gordon and Peyton Watson to punish the Nuggets’ smaller defenders. But D’Angelo Russell’s struggles on both ends of the court were very beneficial for Denver, with D’Lo shooting 6-for-20.

Jokic was able to outplay the opposing stars, with 32 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Jokic led Denver’s biggest battle victory, 49-40 on the glass.

The Nuggets got another 22 points and 10 assists from Jamal Murray, while KCP totaled 12 points and MPJ finished with 19.

This gave the Lakers a chance to land their best punch, which they probably did in the early stages of the game. And yet the Nuggets not only responded, but craftily won Game 1.