Nuggets shake off slow start to Game 1, beat Lakers for ninth straight time

Nikola Jokic had 32 points and 12 rebounds, and the host Denver Nuggets opened defense of their NBA title with a 114-103 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their first round series on Saturday night.

Jamal Murray finished with 22 points and 10 assists to help Denver to its ninth straight win over Los Angeles and fifth in a row in the postseason. Michael Porter Jr. added 19 points and Aaron Gordon had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Nuggets.

Game 2 is Monday night in Denver.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 32 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots, and LeBron James finished with 27 points after a quiet fourth quarter. James didn't attempt a shot in the final period until there was 1:20 left and had only four points in the final 12 minutes.

The Nuggets took control with a strong third quarter. Porter's 3-pointer midway through the period gave Denver a 72-71 lead, its first since the first two minutes of the game, and the Nuggets kept rolling.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored all 12 of his points in the period, including a trio of 3-pointers during a 13-0 run that gave Denver an 89-78 lead heading into the fourth.

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray celebrates after a dunk in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray celebrates after a dunk in the first quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers.

With Jokic on the bench, Murray hit a driving layup and a corner 3-pointer over Davis to extend the lead to 96-81 with 9:09 left. The Lakers answered with an 11-2 run to cut it to 98-92 midway through the fourth, and D'Angelo Russell missed a 3-pointer that would have cut it to four.

Denver made them pay when Porter hit from deep and Jokic had a steal and dunk to make it 108-96 with 3:41 left.

Russell and Austin Reaves finished with 13 points each, and Taurean Prince added 11 points for Los Angeles.

James set the tone for the Lakers with 12 points in the first quarter, and they led by as many as 12 in the second quarter. The Nuggets tied it with a 14-2 run but James hit a 32-foot jumper with 0.8 seconds left to give the Lakers a 60-57 halftime lead.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nuggets vs Lakers score, winner: Defending champ Denver takes Game 1