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Nuggets beat Lakers 114-103 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Playoffs – NBC Los Angeles

New season, same script.

Nikola Jokic had 32 points in a huge performance for the Denver Nuggets as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 114-103 in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series at Ball Arena on Saturday night.

The Lakers led by as many as 12 points in the first half but were run off the floor in the third quarter, leading by 14 points and trailing by 15 heading into the final frame.

Anthony Davis had 32 points and 14 rebounds in the loss. LeBron James finished with 27 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Last May’s highly anticipated Western Conference Finals rematch followed a similar script to that series.

The Lakers led early, Denver dominated the third quarter and LA kept it close late, but in the end it wasn’t enough to beat the Nuggets.

“This is going to be a hard-fought series,” Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said after the loss. “I know everyone is going to go crazy after one game and give them credit, they kept the serve at home… but it’s a matter of going back to the drawing board. We did a lot of good things tonight.”

One thing the Lakers didn’t do well on Saturday night was rebound the ball and shoot a high percentage from three. Los Angeles was outrebounded 53-45, and more importantly, 15-to-6 on the offensive glass. That disadvantage led to 18 second-chance points for the Nuggets.

The Lakers shot poorly from three and finished the game 8 of 29 (27.6 percent) from beyond the arc.

Los Angeles is a team that has thrived this season, and when they win that battle, they usually win the ballgame. But Jokic, the two-time MVP and the presumptive winner again this season, makes his living in the paint. Denver defeated the Lakers 64-54 in that category in Game 1.

The Nuggets have now defeated the Lakers five straight games in the postseason, dating back to the four-game sweep over the Lakers in that finals series last season, and have won a total of nine straight games.

Jamal Murray had 22 points and 10 assists for the defending champions.

Just like last season, Murray neutralized Lakers’ sharpshooter D’Angelo Russell, trapping him in the defense. Russell broke the Lakers’ single-season record for 3-pointers this year, but shot 1-for-9 from beyond the arc in Game 1 and finished with just 13 points.

Russell missed his first six 3-pointers on Saturday and hit his first and only shot from deep early in the fourth quarter. Russell was benched in the starting lineup in the Western Conference Finals series last season after struggling through the first three games.

Taurean Prince had 11 points off the bench for Los Angeles, but Spencer Dinwiddie, Jaxon Hayes and Gabe Vincent all went scoreless as the Lakers were outscored 17-11 in bench points.

Denver’s starting five had the best record, scored the most points and had the best plus/minus in the NBA this season. They played together for three seasons and their bond and cohesion was on display on the field in Game 1.

All five starters scored in double figures, combining for 97 total points. Michael Porter Jr. had 19, and former Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with 12.

The Lakers later cut it to six, but missed threes, turnovers and an inability to solve the Rubix cube that is “The Joker” ultimately did them in.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Monday night in Denver.