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Nuggets beat Lakers to go up 1-0 in first round

This is how you start a playoff run.

The Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 114-103 in Game 1 of the first round on Saturday night. Denver has now defeated Los Angeles nine straight times, dating back to the 2022-2023 regular season.

Nikola Jokić led the way with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists on 15-of-23 shooting. He had four dunks in the game and looked explosive.

Michael Porter Jr. also had an excellent performance with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 8 rebounds. He had several nifty finishes inside the three-point line, including a floater over the top of LeBron James.

Speaking of James, he had 27 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists in the game. Anthony Davis paced Los Angeles with 32 points and 14 rebounds.

The Nuggets did not have their best night shooting the ball, making 35.7 percent of their three-pointers, well below the 37.4 percent they made in the regular season. However, this match was decided on the glass. Denver defeated Los Angeles 49-40 and grabbed 15 offensive boards. Aaron Gordon accounted for six of those offensive rebounds and finished with 11 overall. Denver also recorded 27 assists to just 4 total turnovers.

Los Angeles got off to an excellent start. James was incredible, scoring 70 percent of his team’s points in the first quarter. That helped the Lakers build a 12-point lead, forcing a timeout from Malone.

Denver got it done in the second quarter and ruthlessly hit the offensive glass, grabbing five offensive rebounds off the Lakers’ seven defensive boards. In a half in which they shot just 26 percent from three-point range, the Nuggets ultimately trailed just 60-57 at the break.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came alive in the second half. He hit four three-pointers in the third quarter to help the Nuggets put the Ritz on the Lakers. Denver’s defense held steady on the other end as Los Angeles scored just 18 points in the third quarter. When Denver’s lead grew to as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles cut the lead to 7 points, but Jokić put the game away with two big buckets, including an incredible dunk over the top from James.