Lakers lose Game 1 as Nuggets take over in second half

Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
Nuggets take a 1-0 series lead against the Lakers in the opening round of the playoffs.

DENVER — It was more of the same between the Los Angeles Lakers and the defending champions.

Actually, it was more of the same between these two teams for the last 9 games and counting. The Lakers couldn’t keep up as Denver ran away in the second half to take Game 1 of the series, 114-103.

The Nuggets closed the third quarter with 13 straight points before Taurean Prince finally stopped the run with a three-pointer. From there, Denver staved off any sort of rally the Lakers might have. Los Angeles got within seven points within five minutes to go before the Nuggets scored consecutive field goals to put the game out of reach.

The Lakers led by 12 points in the second quarter, 49-37, before Denver woke up and knotted the game at 51. LeBron James would break the tie before the half with a faraway three-pointer before the champions took over in the second half.

Even with the slow start, Denver played very cleanly as they only turned the ball over four times (compared to the Lakers’ 12, which wasn’t bad but was quite a difference compared to the Nuggets).

It was mostly Anthony Davis (32 points) and LeBron James (27 points) for L.A.; they didn’t get much help from their backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves, who each scored 13 points.

Russell was much of the topic of last year’s sweep of the Denver Nuggets as he was rendered nearly unplayable, averaging only 6.3 points and making a not-so-great 2 for 15 (.133) from three. And Game 1 didn’t show much improvement from Russell as he went 1 for 9 from behind the arc. Reaves went 5 for 9 from the field but he didn’t seem to make much of an impact in the game until it was too late.

The Lakers couldn’t stop Jokic, who went for 32 points, 12 boards, and 7 assists. Jamal Murray had 22 points and 10 assists while their third option, Michael Porter Jr., went for 19 points and 8 rebounds. Ex-Laker Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored all of his 12 points in that crucial third period, where Denver outscored Los Angeles, 32-18.

The series resumes with Game 2 on Monday in Denver.