Nikola Jokic does it all as Nuggets steamroll Lakers in WCF Game 1 #Nikola #Jokic #Nuggets #steamroll #Lakers #WCF #Game #englishheadline


Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis put on a show in Game 1.  (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Nikola Jokic put on a first-half clinic.

Then he and the Nuggets held off a furious late Lakers rally as Denver escaped with a 132-126 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

The Nuggets look well in control of a dominant victory while holding a 21-point third-quarter lead. But the Lakers answered with a fourth-quarter rally that included a 9-0 run to cut Denver’s lead to 124-121. They stayed within three points into the final minute of the game. But a pair of Jokic free throws with 26.3 seconds left extended the lead back to five and keep the Lakers at bay.

Jokic recorded an emphatic triple double, tallying 34 points, 21 rebounds, 14 assists and 2 blocks. He outrebounded the Lakers by himself in the first half. The Lakers countered with Anthony Davis, who posted 18 points at halftime and finished with a game-high 40 to go with 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. It just wasn’t quite enough to lift the Lakers to a dramatic comeback.

Nuggets cruise early

Denver took control shortly after the opening tip. Jamal Murray connected on a 3-pointer four minutes in to give Denver a 14-7 lead. By that point, every Nuggets starter had scored. Minutes later, they went on an 8-0 run to extend their lead to 22-9.

Jokic took turns running the offense, attacking the paint and posting up for rebounds. When the quarter was done, he’d tallied 8 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists. Six of his rebounds came on the offensive glass as he secured second chances on nearly half of Denver’s 15 first-quarter misses. The Nuggets led, 37-25.

The Lakers did their best to keep up on offense. But 29 combined halftime points from Davis and James didn’t put a dent in Denver’s early lead. The Nuggets stepped on the gas and kept the ball moving as Murray and Michael Porter Jr. joined Jokic in making easy work of a hapless Lakers defense. They took a 72-54 lead into halftime punctuated by a Murray pull-up jumper in the closing seconds.

But the story remained largely about Jokic, who’d tallied 19 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks, one of them on a Davis layup attempt — all before halftime. His 16 rebounds before the break were three more than the Lakers tallied as a team.

Midway through the second quarter, Jokic found Kentavious Caldwell Pope for a rhythm jumper. The 12-footer secured a 90-70 lead for Denver and Jokic’s 10th assist. He’d tallied his sixth triple-double of the playoffs with 18 minutes remaining in the game. Meanwhile, Jokic’s supporting cast continued to thrive.

When the Lakers threatened with a run to cut Denver’s lead to 11, Jokic answered again — this time with a contested 3-pointer over Davis to beat the third-quarter buzzer.

Lakers keep pressure on late

But Los Angeles didn’t roll over. With Jokic on the bench to start the fourth, the Lakers kept the pressure on Denver’s second unit as LeBron James took advantage in the post.

An Austin Reaves 3-pointer cut the Denver lead to 108-100 in a sign of things to come. He would hit two more 3-pointers to keep Los Angeles within three points.

But the Nuggets lead built on Jokic’s first-half heroics was too steep to overcome.

English Headline

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