Denver takes over Los Angeles from the start. The Nuggets, thanks in particular to 34 points from Nikola Jokic, author of a triple-double, beat (132-126) the Lakers, who came very close to a fantastic comeback, in the first game of their Western Conference final, counting for the NBA playoffs, Tuesday, May 16.
On his floor, Denver has long gone it alone, aligning up to twenty points ahead in the first period. Then, in the wake of Anthony Davis, author of 40 points, and LeBron James (26 points), Los Angeles resurfaced, to the point of returning to three lengths in the last two minutes (129-126).
In addition to Jokic (12/17 on shots, 21 rebounds, 14 assists), who demonstrated why he had been named best player (“MVP”, for most valuable player) in 2021 and 2022, Jamal Murray was the Nuggets’ other offensive weapon, scoring 31 points.
The triple-double (at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists) achieved by Jokic on Tuesday makes him the leader in playoff history, with now four to his credit, one more than LeBron James and Oscar Robertson.
“There was no panic”
“In the first half we were really good, we controlled the game, we controlled everything, the pace, the defense… And in the next half we lost control and calm with”commented Nikola Jokic. “We knew they could come back [au score], it’s a difficult team to play. But whether you win by one point or twenty in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter, a win is a win.he added.
“A lot of our players are used to fighting, we’ve played a lot of tight games this season. There was no panic, there was serenity. Our guys looked at each other and understood what needed to be done to wrap up this game.”said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. And to add: “We know that winning the second game will be even more difficult, but I think we will be better. »
The second game will take place on Thursday, still in Denver. The first team to four wins will qualify for the league grand final.