DENVER — A collective sigh of relief wafted through Ball Arena, as fans flooded the exit stairways celebrating the Nuggets’ survival of Tuesday’s 132-126 thriller over the Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Jokic’s Triple-Double Powers Nuggets to Victory in Thrilling Game 1 Against Lakers
In an electrifying showdown at Ball Arena, the Denver Nuggets emerged victorious in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, winning 132-126. The win sent a wave of relief through the arena, as fans celebrated the Nuggets’ ability to withstand the Lakers’ relentless pressure.
The star of the night was Nikola Jokic, who continued his impressive playoff run by recording his third consecutive triple-double. Jokic’s stat line was simply remarkable: 34 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists. With this performance, Jokic joined the elite company of Magic Johnson (1982) and Draymond Green (2019) as the only players to achieve the second-most triple-doubles in a single postseason. Moreover, Jokic now holds the distinction of being the sole player in NBA history to record multiple 30-point, 20-rebound triple-doubles, a feat even accomplished by Hall of Famers such as Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar only once.
Right from the start, Jokic displayed relentless aggression, amassing 19 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks in the first half alone. This performance helped Denver establish an 18-point lead early in the game. Notably, Jokic became only the second player in NBA history to record 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds in the first half of a playoff game, with Tim Duncan achieving the feat in 2002 against the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.
“It’s a playoff, we need to be aggressive,” Jokic emphasized. “We need to win the game, especially in front of our home crowd because [the Lakers] won two Game 1s [on the road]. Being aggressive, it’s normal right now.”
Although Jokic experienced a fourth-quarter scoring drought, failing to make a single field goal, the Lakers managed to trim the Nuggets’ lead to just three points (124-121) with 3:23 left to play. Ultimately, the Lakers’ late surge fell short, allowing the Nuggets to secure the victory.
The Lakers attempted multiple defensive strategies against Jokic, but the Nuggets center proved to be too dominant. Despite their efforts, Jokic finished the night with an impressive 34 points on 12-of-17 shooting, along with 21 rebounds, 14 assists, and two blocks. However, Lakers coach Frank Vogel made an adjustment in the latter stages of the game, assigning Rui Hachimura as the primary defender on Jokic while allowing Anthony Davis to roam freely in the paint to disrupt Jokic’s drives.
This thrilling Game 1 marked just the 12th time in Denver franchise history that two Nuggets players scored 30 points or more in the same contest. The Nuggets will aim to build upon their Game 1 success and continue their impressive playoff run as they face the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
As the series progresses, it will be fascinating to witness how the Lakers adapt to counter Jokic’s dominant presence on the court. For the Nuggets, Jokic’s consistent brilliance will be crucial in their quest for a historic playoff run and a chance to compete for an NBA championship.