Denver Nuggets open title defense with victory over Los Angeles Lakers

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (left) fights with Los Angeles Lakers opponent Anthony Davis (right)

Denver’s Nikola Jokic and the Lakers’ Anthony Davis both scored 32 points (Getty Images)

Defending champion Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 114-103 to take a 1-0 lead in their first round of the NBA playoffs.

Nuggets player Nikola Jokic scored 32 points to help his team overcome a narrow halftime deficit and win.

Elsewhere in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Phoenix Suns 120-95.

In the Eastern Conference there were victories for the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Knicks posted a 111-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Cavaliers defeated the Orlando Magic 97-83.

Josh Hart and Jalen Brunson led the Knicks with 22 points each as the second seed responded to Philadelphia’s surge in the third quarter by taking the lead late to seal the victory.

The Cavaliers never trailed the Magic in an impressive performance that saw Donavon Mitchell score 30 points.

The Nuggets defeated the Lakers in all of their regular season games, but got off to a slow start before a 13-0 run in the third quarter put them in control.

Anthony Davis scored 32 points for the Lakers and LeBron James added 27 as they threatened a late comeback, but Denver held on.

While the Suns won all three of their regular season games against the Timberwolves, the hosts turned the tables in game one of the playoffs as Anthony Edwards played with 33 points.

Suns star Kevin Durant scored 31 points but his side faded badly in the third quarter, with Edwards trash-talking Durant after he hit a three-pointer.

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