close
close

Defending champion Denver wins Game 1

play

Nikola Jokic had 32 points and 12 rebounds, and the host Denver Nuggets opened the defense of their NBA title with a 114-103 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their first-round series on Saturday night.

Jamal Murray finished with 22 points and 10 assists to help Denver to its ninth straight win over Los Angeles and fifth straight in the postseason. Michael Porter Jr. added 19 points and Aaron Gordon had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets.

Game 2 is Monday night in Denver.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 32 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots, and LeBron James finished with 27 points after a quiet fourth quarter. James didn’t attempt a shot in the final period until 1:20 remained and had just four points in the final 12 minutes.

The Nuggets took control with a strong third quarter. Porter’s 3-pointer midway through the period gave Denver a 72-71 lead, its first since the game’s opening two minutes, and the Nuggets kept rolling.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored all 12 of his points in the period, including a trio of 3-pointers during a 13-0 run that gave Denver an 89-78 lead heading into the fourth.

With Jokic on the bench, Murray hit a driving layup and a corner 3-pointer over Davis to extend the lead to 96-81 with 9:09 remaining. The Lakers answered with an 11-2 run to make it 98-92 midway through the fourth, and D’Angelo Russell missed a 3-pointer that would have cut the score to four.

Denver made them pay when Porter hit from deep and Jokic had a steal and dunk to make it 108-96 with 3:41 left.

Russell and Austin Reaves finished with 13 points each, and Taurean Prince added 11 points for Los Angeles.

James set the tone for the Lakers with 12 points in the first quarter, and they led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter. The Nuggets tied the score with a 14-2 run, but James hit a 35-foot jumper with 0.8 seconds left to give the Lakers a 60-57 halftime lead.