Lakers vs. Nuggets score, takeaways: LeBron James, Anthony Davis dominate the paint; LA actors step up

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The Los Angeles Lakers are presumptive favorites to the NBA title with the Clippers eliminated, and they certainly played like that in Friday’s 126-114 win over the Denver Nuggets. LeBron James and Anthony Davis set the tone early on, bringing the Lakers out in transition and into the paint to create easy points. Rajon Rondo continued his brilliant playoff performance with seven points and nine assists in 21 minutes, while Dwight Howard provided a huge boost off the bench with 13 points, three rebounds and two blocks after being seated during the major part of the Rockets series.Davis was simply unstoppable, scoring 37 points on a 12-for-21 shot (12-for-15 from the free throw line) while lowering 10 rebounds in 32 minutes. James orchestrated the offense all night, finishing with 15 points, 12 assists and six rebounds in 30 minutes. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 21 points each in loss.

After a great first quarter, Denver never really got back into a rhythm due to early foul issues for Jokic and Murray. The Nuggets were outscored 34-21 in the second quarter, and they were never able to kick off the second half comeback that we’ve been so used to seeing from them.

The Lakers will look to take a 2-0 lead in the series in Game 2 on Sunday. Here are four takeaways from Friday’s game.

1. The Lakers dominate the paint

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said ahead of Game 1 that the Nuggets should limit the Lakers in transition and keep them out – they haven’t done either. The Lakers missed the Nuggets from the opening whistle en route to 54 points in the paint, with James and Davis meeting little resistance from the Denver home defense.

It wasn’t just James and Davis, either – Howard always had baskets and picked up fouls around the rim, and Rondo’s penetration led to some open shots from the Lakers’ role players. The transition defense was also a problem, with Los Angeles running out of hiccups or wins, usually with positive results. The Lakers entered the game leading all postseason teams with nearly 50 points in the paint and over 23 transition points per game, while Denver came in allowing for the fourth most points. paint, so it’s no surprise what LA is trying to do.

“They’re the best running team in the NBA, and that’s given us some problems in this Clippers series, so we have to come back and make sure we don’t allow LeBron to go coast to coast. other and find his shooters, ”Malone said. Thursday. “The second thing is to defend painting. ”

Easier said than done, but Denver will have to really suffocate the Lakers on the inside if they are to stand a chance in this series.

2. Role players on a roll

Anthony Davis was dominant. LeBron James was awesome. The Nuggets can live with that, but they’ll be in trouble if the Lakers get their supporting cast like they did on Friday. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 18 points, Howard 13, Kyle Kuzma 11, Markieff Morris nine and Danny Green eight. Part of the antidote limits the Lakers’ transition and penetration, as mentioned above, as it created easy layups and open looks for role players throughout the game. Denver didn’t play a role. excellent defense in Game 1, but if unnamed Lakers Anthony Davis or LeBron James are going to play well, it will be a short streak.

3. Silver lining for Denver

The final score was not pretty, but Denver can take some positives from the loss in Game 1. They played very well offensively in the first quarter before disgusting problems gave them back the lead. The Nuggets scored 38 points in the first quarter with Jokic and Murray dominating their two-man game. Monte Morris provided some very good minutes in the second quarter, and Mason Plumlee played well for a long time off the Nuggets bench. Denver was also blown away in Game 1 of the Clippers series, so you better believe there isn’t a person counting them after that poor performance.

4. Crying scandal

Some Denver fans are surely screaming conspiracy right now, and it was certainly disappointing to see one of the post-season breakout players sidelined for much of the first half with big problems. You all know my thoughts on how to eliminate security faults (or at least increase the limit from six to 10), but since it’s not happening any time soon, Jokic has to be really careful not to detect mistakes . He’s had a few whistles battling for a low position and a few more on offensive fouls, which just can’t happen. Now Jokic clearly understands how essential he is to any Nuggets success, so he will have to be more careful not to foul in the future.

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