Nuggets, Nikola Jokic (34-21-14) Hold Off Lakers’ Comeback, Anthony Davis (40-10) to Win Game 1 of West Finals (132-126)
Give us more Lakers-Nuggets, and soon. Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals showed just how fun this series can be. A high-scoring slugfest on Tuesday saw both teams flood the basket with 3s and shoot better than 45 percent from deep. The Nuggets jumped out to a big lead behind Nikola Jokic’s hot start and another stat-stuffing palooza (34-21-14), and Denver took a 20-point lead into the waning minutes of the third quarter.
A game that looked to be over — and potentially a quick series — took a quick turn as the Lakers came firing back. L.A. went on an 11-2 run late in the third and never went away. Anthony Davis (40) continued to attack Jokic, and Austin Reaves (23) hit big shots in the fourth quarter to pull the Lakers within three (124-121). Jokic went 3-for-4 on free throws in the final 30 seconds to ice the win, but it was a valiant comeback attempt that left fans like us thinking: “This should be fun.” Denver defended home court to kickstart the series, and the Nuggets are attempting to deliver the city’s first NBA Finals trip since the franchise was founded (1967).
Game 1 Difference-Maker: Rebounding
While both teams shot the lights out in all three phases — 2pt, 3pt, and FTs — the Nuggets out-rebounded the Lakers 47-30.
Western Conference Finals
Gm 1: Nuggets def. Lakers (132-126) | DEN Leads (1-0)
Nuggets Top Performers
Nikola Jokic: 34 points, 21 rebounds, 14 assists
Jamal Murray: 31 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
Kentavius Caldwell-Pope: 21 points
Lakers Top Performers
Anthony Davis: 40 points, 10 rebounds
LeBron James: 26 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists
Austin Reaves: 23 points, 8 assists (5-for-9, 3pt)
Tonight (Eastern Conference Finals)
Gm 1: Heat at Celtics (8:30 pm ET)
Yahoo! Sports: Nuggets Take Game 1, Survive Lakers’ Late Rally
B/R: Bold Predictions for 2023 NBA Conference Finals
Image via Giphy/NBA