Denver failed to pounce on the Los Angeles Lakers early even as LeBron James admitted it took some time for them to figure out the Nuggets.
After a close opening quarter ended with the Nuggets up by two, the Lakers seized control in the next frame on the way to a 126-114 victory in Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference finals on Friday, September 18 (Saturday, September 19, Philippine time).
“It took a quarter for us to kind of figure it out,” James said. “I’m not saying we fully figured them out because it’s too early in the series to say that.
“But we started to get a better feel, just started to get in a better rhythm defensively and we started to get some stops in that 2nd quarter and we were able to build that lead up going into halftime.”
Denver trimmed the deficit to 9 points midway through the 3rd quarter.
But their efforts were hampered with stars Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap all in early foul trouble, and that was the closest they would get in the second half.
Coach Mike Malone, though, thinks his Nuggets did not do enough on defense.
“Even in that 1st quarter we didn’t guard anybody,” said Malone, whose team shot better than 63% from the field in an opening period punctuated by Murray’s three-pointer as time expired.
“Our offense was able to score the ball but there was little defense.”
But Malone said the Nuggets would have to figure out how to get stops without fouling, noting that in the Lakers’ massive 2nd quarter they shot just 42.9% from the floor but went to the free throw line 24 times.
“Twenty-four times in one quarter, and we were called for 16 personal fouls in that quarter,” Malone said. “On top of that 7 turnovers, again fueling their break.”
Murray said the Nuggets aren’t surprised to see foul calls to go the Lakers’ way.
“We know how it’s going to be,” he said. “We know we’re the younger team. We’re just going to play through it.
“We’re going to find a way and we’re not going to go away so easy.” – Rappler.com
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