In Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic showed the Los Angeles Lakers that he was ready to dominate. Jokic came out aggressive, reintroducing himself as a two-time MVP at the top of his game. He compiled his third straight triple-double this postseason by the third quarter, finishing with 34 points, 21 rebounds, 14 assists, and two blocks to help the Nuggets take a 132-126 win at Ball Arena.
Jokic was a force on the glass, having six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone. By halftime, Jokic outrebounded the entire Lakers team 16-13. On offense, he looked as aggressive as ever, putting the ball on the floor and driving hard and quick on Anthony Davis and any other Lakers defender. He even posted Davis, spun to his left, and drove baseline for a dunk on the Lakers big man.
Jokic’s Historic Performance
By the end of the third quarter, Jokic had 31 points, 19 rebounds, and 12 assists to help Denver lead by as much as 21 points. He gave the Lakers a dose of how dominant he was in the second round, where he averaged 34.5 points, 13.2 rebounds and 10.3 assists while shooting 59.4% from the field against the Phoenix Suns.
Jokic even buried a 28-foot step-back 3-pointer in Davis’ face at the third-quarter buzzer that drew a smile from Davis and a shrug from the Nuggets big man. Jokic made 12 of his first 15 shots, but his team was just as hot. Denver shot 56% from the field and 12-of-24 from 3 through the first three quarters.
Although the Lakers fought back and cut the deficit to three multiple times within the final 2:18, Jokic hit crucial shots to seal the game. Davis put up a fight against Jokic, finishing with 40 points and 10 rebounds. And James just missed out on his own triple-double with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists.
Jokic is the first player to record multiple 30-point triple-doubles while shooting 70% from the field in NBA postseason history, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information. And he has now done that in each of his past two games.
Jokic’s performance was magical, with his teammates in awe of his talent. “He makes it [look] really simple,” Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon said of Jokic taking whatever a defense gives him. “[But also] he makes it look miraculous at the same time.”
The Lakers will have to come up with a game plan to stop Jokic, or they may find themselves in a deep hole in this series.
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