The Denver Nuggets continued their dominance of the Los Angeles Lakers in game one of their first round series. After L.A. built a lead behind stars Lebron James and Anthony Davis the Nuggets responded and built a big lead of their own in the third quarter. Nikola Jokic scored thirty-two points while Jamal Murray scored twenty-two as Denver got double digit scoring performances from all of their starters. The Nuggets end up winning comfortably 114-103.

The Nuggets were aggressive getting to the hoop early and Jokic was leading the charge. L.A. kept pace with neither team shooting well from outside. The Lakers got a small lead with LeBron having a strong opening frame. Jokic was playing well also though so the Nuggets kept it close. They went on a mini 4-0 run highlighted by a nasty Jamal Murray dunk and got back within a basket. The Lakers consistently found offense to keep the Nuggets from overtaking them with the quarter winding down. They pushed it to 33-25 by the end of the first.

Michael Malone opened the second quarter with four bench players and Murray. DeAndre Jordan was in and the Lakers were content with letting him try to be the scorer on Denver and to DJ’s credit he got a quick four points. Denver’s defense remained questionable though and only Murray was hitting from three. The Lakers lead grew to ten and Malone started getting the starters back in the game. L.A. maintained their double digit lead while Malone was taking rage timeouts. His second TO worked out with the Nuggets going on an 8-0 run to pull back within four. Denver continued to capture the momentum and after a couple offensive boards they tied the game at 51. The game was intense down the stretch with full playoff basketball intensity. Lebron hit a deep three right before the buzzer and that was the margin at halftime. After two quarters Lakers led 60-57.

The second half opened with both teams hitting some shots while the game stayed a one possession affair. Murray was doing damage for Denver which offset the Lakers starters scoring. Denver kept the pressure on and eventually worked their way into the lead with Porter hitting a three to put them ahead right at the six minute mark. Denver continued to hold a small lead despite the whistle being pretty one sided in L.A.’s favor in the quarter. Jokic was asserting his will and the wheels were starting to come off the Lakers a bit. A KCP transition three put Denver up nine and forced L.A. to take a timeout. It did nothing to stem the tide as Denver’s lead grew to double digits. The Lakers were ice cold until Taurean Prince hit a three in the final minute. Even still Denver headed into the fourth leading 89-78.

The Nuggets did not let up to start up the fourth quarter. Jordan gave them some strong defense and with LeBron on the on bench the Lakers continued to be unable to score and they kept on falling further and further behind forcing Darvin Ham to call a timeout. That stopped the bleeding and after a Davis and-1 the Lakers got back within ten. After the Lakers got within eight Malone took a timeout with the Nuggets lead dwindling away. Denver maintained the lead around the seven point mark from there with the game heading into crunch time. Michael Porter Jr. knocked down a three and Jokic got a steal and layup to put some breathing room between the Nuggets and the Lakers. L.A. tried to hang around but missed a number of easy shots and couldn’t mount a comeback while Jokic added to his dunk total. Denver closed it out and now have won nine straight against the Lakers. Nuggets win 114-103.

Best Matchup: Nikola Jokic vs Anthony Davis

Mar 2, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) in the second half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Big matchup between the bigs tonight. Jokic continued to prove to be unstoppable no matter who is defending him. Davis did the best he could and even got a couple blocks one on one with Jokic but ultimately could do nothing to stop the inevitable force of Joker. Davis ended the night with a big performance as well though. He scored thirty-two points and had fourteen rebounds but it still wasn’t enough.

The Lakers have to feel hopeless

Lebron had a big night, AD had a big night and it wasn’t close to enough for the Lakers. Despite all the talk about how D’Angelo Russell is a different player this year he once again put up an abysmal performance. Their bench was completely inept and no one else was a difference maker. It doesn’t seem to matter what the Lakers try, they just have no answer for this team.

CB misses on the thing to bet

Speaking of the benches being inept, it wasn’t a great night for Denver’s bench outside of Peyton Watson. That was certainly true for Christian Braun who we were banking on scoring seven or more points to hit the over on his points line. Sadly it was a 1-5 shooting night for Christian and thus he ended with just two points.