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Summary: Denver Nuggets continue their dominance over the Los Angeles Lakers, winning game one 114-103.

The Denver Nuggets continued their dominance over the Los Angeles Lakers in game one of their first round series. After LA built a lead behind stars Lebron James and Anthony Davis, the Nuggets responded and built a big lead of their own in the third quarter. Nikola Jokic scored thirty-two points, while Jamal Murray scored twenty-two points, as Denver scored double figures from all their starters. The Nuggets ultimately win comfortably 114-103.

The Nuggets were aggressive when they got to the hoop early and Jokic led the charge. LA kept pace with neither team shooting well from outside. The Lakers got a small lead and LeBron had a strong opening frame. However, Jokic also played well, so the Nuggets kept it close. They went on a mini 4-0 run highlighted by a vicious Jamal Murray dunk and came back within a basket. The Lakers consistently found offense to keep the Nuggets from overtaking them as the quarter came to a close. They pushed the score to 33-25 by the end of the first.

Michael Malone opened the second quarter with four bench players and Murray. DeAndre Jordan joined in and the Lakers were content to let him try to be Denver’s scorer and to DJ’s credit he got four points quickly. However, Denver’s defense remained questionable with only Murray hitting from three. The Lakers’ lead grew to ten and Malone started to get the starters back into the game. LA maintained their double-digit lead as Malone took anger timeouts. His second TO came when the Nuggets went on an 8-0 run and pulled away in four. Denver continued to gain momentum and after a few offensive boards they tied the game at 51. The game was intense down the stretch with full playoff basketball intensity. Lebron hit a deep three just before the buzzer and that was the margin at halftime. After two quarters, the Lakers led 60-57.

The second half started with some shots from both teams as the match remained a matter of one possession. Murray did damage for Denver, negating the Lakers starters’ scoring. Denver kept the pressure on and eventually clawed their way into the lead, with Porter hitting a three to put them ahead after six minutes. Denver continued to maintain a slim lead despite the whistle being quite one-sided in LA’s favor this quarter. Jokic asserted his will and the wheels started to come off the Lakers a bit. A KCP transition three put Denver up nine and forced LA to take a timeout. It did nothing to turn the tide as Denver’s lead grew to double digits. The Lakers were ice cold until Taurean Prince hit a three in the final minute. Still, Denver headed into the fourth lead 89-78.

The Nuggets didn’t give up to start the fourth quarter. Jordan gave them strong defense and with LeBron on the bench, the Lakers remained unable to score and continued to fall further behind, forcing Darvin Ham to call a timeout. That stopped the bleeding and after a Davis and-1, the Lakers were back within ten minutes. After the Lakers pulled within eight, Malone took a timeout as the Nuggets’ lead dwindled. Denver kept the lead at around seven points from then on as the game headed to crunch time. Michael Porter Jr. knocked down a three and Jokic got a steal and a layup to create some breathing room between the Nuggets and the Lakers. LA tried to hang around, but missed some easy shots and couldn’t mount a comeback as Jokic added to his dunk total. Denver closed it out and has now won nine straight against the Lakers. Nuggets win 114-103.

Best Match: Nikola Jokic vs. Anthony Davis

March 2, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) in the second half at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight a big match between the greats. Jokic continued to prove unstoppable no matter who defends him. Davis did his best, even getting a few blocks one-on-one with Jokic, but ultimately couldn’t do anything to stop Joker’s inevitable power. However, Davis also ended the evening with a big performance. He scored thirty-two points and had fourteen rebounds, but it still wasn’t enough.

The Lakers must feel hopeless

Lebron had a great night, AD had a great night and it wasn’t close enough for the Lakers. For all the talk about D’Angelo Russell being a different player this year, he had another terrible performance. Their bank was completely incompetent and no one else made a difference. It doesn’t seem to matter what the Lakers try, they just don’t have an answer for this team.

CB misses the thing to bet

Speaking of the benches’ incompetence, it wasn’t a great night for Denver’s bench outside Peyton Watson. That was certainly the case for Christian Braun, who was banking on scoring seven or more runs to reach the over on his points line. Unfortunately, it was a 1-5 shooting night for Christian, so he finished with just two points.