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Nuggets fans slam Lakers with ferocious ‘Who’s Your Daddy’ chants amid Game 1 bunting

The Denver crowd let the Lakers hear it while the Nuggets took care of business.

Nikola Jokic had 32 points and 12 rebounds for the Denver Nuggets as the defending NBA champions rolled past LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers 114-103 in their NBA playoffs opener on Saturday night.

Ball Arena was rocking all night, and Nuggets fans made sure the Lakers could hear it:

Denver defeated the Lakers in the Western Conference finals last season, the penultimate step the Nuggets had to take before claiming their first NBA title. Los Angeles hasn’t beaten the Nuggets since Dec. 16, 2022. They’ll try again Monday night in Game 2 at Ball Arena, where Denver is now 34-8 on the season.

As defending NBA champions, the Nuggets enter the NBA Playoffs with a target on their back. But they didn’t seem to be under pressure against the Lakers.

A sign of their relaxed attitude: Jokic, who stars in a teaser for “Despicable Me 4” in which he seeks therapy because the Minions think he’s their boss, arrived at Ball Arena decked out in a black-and-gray striped scarf and gray pants, resembling Felonius Gru, the main character from the film franchise.

Lakers in trouble against Nuggets?

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts on the court during the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets in game one of the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs at Ball Arena
© Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Despite all the x-factors and adjustments, many believe the Lakers’ Round 1 series versus the Nuggets simply comes down to star power. Will LeBron James and Anthony Davis outperform Jokic and Jamal Murray in this case?

In Game 1 of the series they did, but it turned out that balanced play was the real difference.

Anthony Davis had 32 points, 14 rebounds and five assists for the Lakers, while LeBron had 27 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Most nights, that would be enough for Los Angeles to feel good about their chances, but no one else could do anything against the Nuggets.

D’Angelo Russell struggled on a 6-20 shooting night. Rui Hachimura scored just seven points in 31 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie remained scoreless. If the Lakers want to hang in this series against the Nuggets, their role players will have to do a better job of stepping up the rest of the way.

Although Denver is clearly led by Jokic, they managed to get contributions up and down the lineup.

In addition to Jokic, two other Nuggets players posted double-doubles – Jamal Murray (22 points, 10 assists) and Aaron Gordon (12 points, 11 rebounds) – and Michael Porter Jr. came close with 19 points and eight boards of her own.

Now the Lakers are trying to regroup, watch film and see if they can find a way to stop Jokic – the NBA’s best player – who has looked nothing but unstoppable for several seasons.

Game 2 between the Nuggets and Lakers takes place on Monday night at 7:00 PM PST.