“I really feel like the one distinction is Bron can soar increased than Jokic,” Caldwell-Pope declared after Jokic’s monster efficiency fuelled the Nuggets’ 132-126 win in sport one on Wednesday AEST.
“That is actually offensive,” Jokic replied in fake indignation about his athletic skills. “I am joking. I imply, to be in comparison with probably the greatest ever — or THE greatest ever — I feel is absolutely cool. »
Jokic would not actually see many similarities of their play: “We have an effect on the sport in numerous methods,” Jokic mentioned. « However he’s a extremely good participant. »
No person was higher than Jokic within the collection opener.
Jokic recorded his sixth triple-double of those playoffs with 34 factors, 21 rebounds and 14 assists, powering the Nuggets to a 1-0 lead within the collection.
Behind Jokic’s scorching begin and robust end, and Jamal Murray’s 31 factors whereas battling an ear an infection, Denver beat the Lakers within the opener of the West finals for the primary time ever.
After a gradual begin, Anthony Davis had 40 factors and 10 rebounds, and James completed with 26 factors, 12 boards and 9 assists. Austin Reaves chipped in 23 factors and fueled LA’s determined fourth-quarter run that just about erased Denver’s 14-point cushion after three.
Caldwell-Pope scored 21 factors in opposition to his former group. Michael Porter Jr. had 15 factors and 10 boards and Bruce Brown added 16 factors.
The Nuggets led by as many as 21 however the Lakers pulled inside three factors twice within the fourth quarter, as soon as on Reaves’ three-pointer at 124-121 and once more on James’ pair of free throws that made it 129-126 with 1:12 remaining.
“Yeah, it took us a half to get into the sport,” James mentioned, “and that was just about the ballgame proper there. They punched us within the mouth to begin … I do know the sport is received in 48 minutes, however they set the tone in 24 minutes and we had been enjoying catch-up for the subsequent 24.”
Within the fourth quarter, Rui Hachimura guarded Jokic, permitting Davis to crowd the paint and make issues more durable for the Nuggets massive man to dominate the paint. However it wasn’t sufficient.
After Jokic sank two free throws with 26 seconds left to present Denver a 131-126 lead, Murray poked the ball from James as he was about to take it to the ring and Jokic gathered the free ball earlier than being fouled with 10.9 seconds left. He sank one in all two and James misfired from three because the seconds ticked off.
“I would somewhat clear issues up after a win within the Western Convention finals than after a loss, so I’ll take it, » Nuggets coach Michael Malone mentioned. “However a lot work to do.”
Recreation two on Friday morning AEST at Ball Area, the place the top-seeded Nuggets are 7-0 within the playoffs and 41-7 total, one of the best residence file within the league this season.
Jokic mentioned a day earlier that the Nuggets desperately wanted to keep away from following within the sneaker-steps of the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors, each of whom dropped their residence opener to the Lakers and wound up dropping in six video games.
Furthermore, James has received his final 20 playoff collection wherein his group has received the opener.
The Nuggets hadn’t taken sport one in opposition to the Lakers since 1979, after they received the opener of the best-of-three collection solely to lose the subsequent two. That’s the closest the Nuggets have ever come to eliminating the Lakers, who’ve overwhelmed Denver 3 times within the West finals, together with within the Florida bubble in 2020.
Flashing his MVP credentials in a surprising show of energy within the first quarter, Jokic pulled down a dozen boards and dished out 5 assists to go together with eight factors. That made him the primary participant since not less than 1997 to have a dozen or extra boards and not less than 5 assists in any quarter of an NBA playoff sport.
The Lakers used an 11-2 run to chop the deficit to 11 factors earlier than Jokic responded with a jaw-dropping three-pointer over the outstretched arm of Davis that hardly fluttered the web on the buzzer, leaving Davis to trudge again to the bench in disbelief.
“Generally luck is on our facet,” Jokic mentioned. “It is a loopy shot, in fact.”
The “Joker,” who missed out on his third consecutive NBA MVP award this 12 months when he was edged by Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, had 19 factors, 16 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks by half time because the Nuggets took a 72-54 lead into the locker room.
“Thank God it’s the best-of-seven and it’s not the NCAA Match,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham mentioned. « It’s the primary to 4. We’ll be OK, belief me.”
For a each day dose of one of the best of the breaking information and unique content material from Huge World of Sports activities, subscribe to our publication by clicking right here!