Jokic powers Nuggets to victory over Lakers 132-126
In the first game of the Western Conference Finals, the Denver Nuggets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers thanks in large part to Nikola Jokic.
Jokic, a two-time NBA MVP, led Denver to a 132-126 victory and a 1-0 series lead with 34 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists.
In the fourth quarter, a Lakers comeback reduced the margin from 21 points to three, but a Jokic free throw secured the victory.
Denver coach Michael Malone stated, "A lot of our guys are battle-tested, and we've been in a lot of close games."
"There didn't seem to be any panic; instead, there was composure. When our players turned to face one another, they realized what was required to win this game.
Jamal Murray added 31 points for the Nuggets, with four other players posting double-digit scores.
They had a commanding 72-54 lead at half-time but the Lakers slowly whittled away at their advantage in the second half before falling just short.
Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers with 40 points, with LeBron James adding 26 points and Austin Reaves 23.
"We'll go back and look at the film tonight and see what we need to clean up, take a good look at that second half and see what went well, try to sustain the good stuff, and alleviate and repair the bad stuff," said Lakers coach Darvin Ham.