Nikola Jokic’s dominant triple-double leads Nuggets over Lakers

In Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets to a 132-126 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers with 34 points, 21 rebounds, 14 assists, and two blocks. Jokic was extremely aggressive from the start, out-rebounding the entire Lakers team in the first half and compiling his third straight triple-double this postseason by the third quarter. He even buried a 28-foot step-back 3-pointer in Anthony Davis’ face at the third-quarter buzzer that drew a smile from Davis and a shrug from the Nuggets big man. 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.

Despite Jokic’s dominant performance, the Lakers clawed their way back into the game and trailed by just three multiple times within the final 2:18. However, Jokic hit Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a driving finger roll with 1:53 to go, and when the Lakers got back within three, Jokic hit three free throws and had a steal to seal the game. Davis put up a fight against Jokic, finishing with 40 points and 10 rebounds, and LeBron James just missed out on his own triple-double with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists.

Jokic’s teammates, including forward Aaron Gordon, praised his ability to take whatever a defense gives him and make it look miraculous. Denver coach Michael Malone commended Jokic’s rebounding early on, saying that the Nuggets were “imposing our will on the glass.” Despite the win, Malone acknowledged that Jokic might have to be even better in Game 2 after how the Lakers fought back in Game 1. Jokic’s aggressive style and dominance will be key for the Nuggets as they continue to face off against the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

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