Lakers late comeback comes up short in Game 1

LA came up short in Game 1 as they lost to the Nuggets 132-126. Nikola Jokic was unbelievable from the start of the game to the end. He finished with a triple-double of 34 points, 21 rebounds, and 14 assists.

Denver’s big three of Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr all combined for 80 points. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also tacked on 21 points.

The Lakers were led by Anthony Davis, who had a great game offensively as he finished with 40 points and ten rebounds.

LeBron James finished the game with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists. Austin Reaves also finished the game with a productive 23 points. Off the bench, Rui Hachimura contributed 17 points.

The Lakers trailed by as many as 21 points in the second half and were chipping away at the lead in the fourth quarter. With just seven minutes remaining, LA was down by 14 points.

Then the Lakers turned things around as they caught fire from long-range and made key stops late in the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Austin Reaves hit two three-pointers to cut the lead to three minutes remaining.

Nikola Jokic was just too much for the Lakers. It seemed like he could not miss from the field. As a matter of fact, it seemed like the entire Denver Nuggets team could not miss throughout the game. For the game, the Nuggets shot 15/32 from the three-point line. 

Now the Lakers head to Game 2 trailing for the first time in a series this postseason.

There seemed to be some success in the second half when defending Jokic, as Darvin Ham had Hachimura as the primary defender at times then Davis would be the help man. Going into Game 2, this could be something that can be effective moving forward. 

The Lakers used the same lineup as they did in Game 6 of the Warriors series, as Dennis Schroder was inserted into the lineup over Jarred Vanderbilt.

This was a questionable decision because Denver has a big starting lineup, and the Lakers are losing size when removing Vanderbilt from the starting unit. 

If the Lakers want to succeed in this series, the key is rebounding, which starts with using their size. In Game 2, Rui Hachimura needs to be in the starting unit. He was key to the Lakers' comeback in the second half, and Jokic seemed to be having difficulty scoring when Hachimura was the primary defender.

The Lakers have lots to work on, and they may have walked away with a Game 1 loss, but they may have found a winning recipe moving forward with the defensive adjustments they made in the second half. 

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